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■nnjAiin 



6000e0702L 




^ 



JOHNNY LUDLOW. 



Surnib iSeries. 



MRS. HENRY WOOD, 

AUTHOR OF "EAST LYNNB." 



Sodu (iuple ubd beutidt ]»t 

And buuhlbe ihonghu of daj. 
Such wordi ban powa to qut« 

Tbg mda duIk of can, 
And come lik« ue beoedictioii 

Thai raUon uner prayer." 



IN THREE VOLUMES. 




LONDON : 

RICHARD BENTLEY AND SON, 

NEW BURLINGTON STREET, 

VnUishrte in iVrliinacs tit ^tt ^Bajtsts the (Qoun. 

1880. 

[All Rights /feserved.] 



^■; .' 



^U.il 



CONTENTS OF VOL II. 



-<• 



CHAPTBK i'AGE 

I. A TALE OF SIN - - - - "I 

II. A DAY OF PLEASURE - - - 1 63 

IIL THE FINAL ENDING TO IT - - - 20I 

IV. MARGARET RYMER - - - - ' ^45 

V. THE OTHER EARRING - * - - 28 1 



JOHNNY LUDLOW. 



I. 

A TALE OF SIN. 

PART THE FIRST. 

IF I don't relate this quite as usual, and it is 
found to be different from what I generally 
write, it is because I know less about it than 
others know. The history is Duff ham's; not 
mine. And there are diaries in it, and all kinds 
of foreign things. That is, foreign to me. Duff- 
ham holds all the papers, and has lent them to 
me to use. It came about in this way. 

*' While you are picking up the sea breezes, 
Johnny," he said, when I called to tell him 
where I was going, ** you can be getting on 
with another paper or two for us, I hope ; for 
we like your stories." 

** But I am going away for a rest, Mr. Duff- 
ham ; not to work. I don't wan't to be 
ransacking memory for materials during my 
holiday, and then weaving them into what you 
call a story. Much rest that would be !" 

VOL. II. 1 



i 



2 Johnny Ludlow. 

" I'll give you the materials for one," I^e said ; 
** plenty of them : it won't take much weaving ; 
you'll have it all before your eyes. It will be 
nothing but play- work to you ; just a bit of 
copying." 

*' But I don't care to put fiction on paper and 
send it forth as though it were true. What I 
tell of has mostly happened, you know." 

Duffham laughed a little. " If everything told 
in print were as true as this, Johnny Ludlow, 
the world would have witnessed some strange 
events. Not that you'll find anything strange in ; 
this tale : it Is quite matter-of-fact. There's no 
romance about it ; nothing but stern reality." 

" Well, let me see the papers." 

Duffham went out of the surgery, and came 
back carrying some papers tied up with pink 
tape, and his spectacles on. 

" You'll find a kind of narrative begun, 
Johnny," he said, untying the tape, " for I tried 
my own hand at it. But I found I could not 
get on well. Writing manuscripts is not so 
much in my line as doctoring patients." 

*' Why, here's Lady Chavasse's name in it !'* 
I exclaimed, glancing over the papers. '* Is it 
about her ?" 

" You'll see who it's about and who it's not 
about, Johnny," he answered, rolling them up 
again. ** I should like you to retain the title I 
have put to it." 

" What is the title ?" 



A Tale of Sin, 3 

Duffham undid the first sheet, and held it in 
silence for me to read. ** A Tale of Sin." It 
took me aback. Sundry considerations naturally 
struck me. 

" I say, Mr. Duffham, if it is about sin, and 
the people are still livingr, how will they like to 
see it talked of in print ?" 

**You leave the responsibility to me," he 
said ; " Fll take it on my own shoulders. All 
you have to do is to put it into ship-shape, 
Johnny. That is a matter of course." 

And so I took the papers. But the tale is 
Duflfham's ; not mine. 

To begin with, and make it explainable, we 
have to go to ever so many years back : but it 
won't be for long. 

Duffham's predecessor as general practitioner 
at Church Dyhely was a Mr. Layne. Some of 
the poor would spell it without the "y," 
" Lane," but the other was the proper way. 
This Mr. Layne was of rather good family, 
while his wife was but a small working farmer's 
daughter. Mr. Layne lived in a pretty red- 
brick house, opposite to Duffham's present 
residence. It stood a yard or two back from 
the path, and had woodbines and jessamine 
creeping up its walls ; the door was in the 
middle, a window on each side ; and there was 
a side-door round the little garden path, that 
opened into the surgery. The house \sf2Ls\v\^o^tv, 

1 — 2 



4 Johnny Ludlow. 

Nearly a mile beyond the village, along the 
straight highway, stood the gates and lodge of 
a fine place called Chavasse Grange, belonging 
to Sir Peter Chavasse. He remained an old 
bachelor up to nearly the end of his life. And 
then, when it seemed to be getting time for him 
to prepare for the grave, he suddenly got mar- 
ried. The young lady was a Miss Gertrude 
Cust : as might have been read in the news- 
papers of the day, announcing the wedding. 

But, when Sir Peter brought her home, the 
wonder to the neighbourhood was, what could 
have induced the young lady to have him ; for 
she turned out to be a mere child in years, and 
very beautiful. It was whispered that her 
family, high, poor, and haughty, had wished her 
to make a different match ; to a broken-down 
old nobleman, ten times richer than Sir Peter ; 
but that she hated the man. Sir Peter had 
five thousand a year, and his baronetcy was not 
of ancient creation. The new lady was found 
to be very pleasant : she went into the village 
often, and made acquaintance with everybody. 

It was just about eight months after the mar- 
riage that Sir Peter died. The death was 
sudden. Mr. Layne was sent for in haste to 
the Grange, and found he was too late. Too 
late for Sir Peter : but Lady Chavasse, over- 
come with grief and terror, was in great need 
of his services. 

There was a baby expected at the Grange. 



A Tale of Sin. 5 

Not yet : in three or four months to come. 
And, until this child should be born, the 
baronetcy had to lie in abeyance. * If it proved 
to be a boy, he would take his father's title and 
fortune ; if a girl, both title and fortune would 
lapse to some distant cousin ; a young man, 
compared with Sir Peter ; who was in the navy, 
and was called Parker Chavasse. 

And now we must give a line or two from 
one of the diaries I spoke of. It is Mr. Layne's : 
and it appears to have been partly kept as a 
professional note-book, partly as a private 
journal. At this time Mr. Layne was a middle- 
aged man with three young children, girls ; he 
had married later than some men do. 

\From an Old Note-book of Mr. Laynis^ 

May iZth. — Have had a fatiguing day. Upon 
getting home from my visit to Lady Chavasse, 
there were five different messages waiting for 
me. It never rains but it pours. Ten o'clock 
P.M., and I am dead tired ; but I must write my 
notes before going to bed. 

I wish I could get some strength and spirit 
into Lady Chavasse. This listlessness tells 
sadly against her. Over and over again it has 
been on the tip of my tongue to say it may go 
hard with her unless she uses more exertion ; 
but I don't like to frighten her. Nearly four 
months now since Sir Peter died, and she has 
never been out but to church — and to that she 



6 Johnny Ludlow. 

goes in the pony-carriage. " My lady, you 
ought to walk ; my lady, you must walk," say 
I. And it is just as though I spoke to the 
post at the lodge-gates. 

I was much surprised by what she told me 
to-day — that there was no settlement made on 
her at her marriage. *' Do you think my baby 
will be a boy, Mr. Layne T^ she asked — as if it 
were possible for me to tell I ** If it is not," she 
went on, " I shall have to turn out of my home 
here, and I have not another to go to in the 
wide world." And then it was, seeing my sur- 
prise, that she said there had been no settle- 
ment. "It was not my husband's intentional 
fault," she continued, ** and I will never have 
him blamed, come what will. Things were 
unpleasant at my home, and we hurried on the 
marriage, he and I, so that he might take me 
out of it, and there was no time to get a settle- 
ment drawn up, even had we, either of us, 
thought of it, which we did not" Listening to 
this, the notion struck me that it must have 
been something like a runaway marriage ; but 
I said nothing, only bade her take heart and 
hope for a boy. *' I cannot imagine any lot in 
life now so delightful as this would be — that I 
and my baby-boy should live on in this nice 
place together — I be training him always for 
good," she continued — and a faint pink came 
into her delicate cheek as she said it, a yearn- 
ing look into her hazel eyes. *' You'd help me 



A Tale of Sin. 7 

to keep him in health and make him strong, 
would you not, Mr. Layne ?" I answered that 
I would do my best. Poor thing! she was 
only eighteen yesterday, she told me. I hope 
she4I be able to keep the place ; I hope it won't 
go over her head to rough Parker Chavasse. 
And a rough-mannered man he is : I saw him 
once. 

Coming home I met Thompson. The lawyer 
stopped, ever ready for a chat. I spoke about 
this expected child, and the changes its arrival 
might make. " It's true that Lady Chavasse 
would have to turn out," said he. ** Every 
individual shilling is entailed. Books, plate, 
carriages — it all goes with the title. Tm not 
sure but Sir Peter's cast-off clothes have 
to be thrown in too, so strict is the entail. No 
settlement on her, you say, Layne ? My good 
fellow, old Peter had nothing to settle. He 
had spent his income regularly, and there lay 
nothing beyond it. I've heard that that was 
one of the reasons why the Custs objected to 
the match.*' Well, it seemed a curious posi- 
tion : I thought so as Thompson went off ; but 
I don't understand law, and can take his word 
for it. And now to bed. If 

What's that ? A carriage drawing up to the 
house, and the night-bell ! I am wanted some- 
where as sure as a gun, and my night's rest is 
stopped, I suppose. Who'd be a doctor? 
Listen ! There's my wife opening the street 



8 Johnny Ludlow, 

door. What does she call out to me ? Lady 
Chavasse not well ? A qarriage waiting to take 
me to the Grange ? Thank fortune at least 
that I have not to walk there. 

May 22nd, — Four days, and nothing noted 
down. But I have been very busy, what with 
Lady Chavasse and other patients. The doubt 
is over, and over well. The little boy is a boy, 
and a nice little fellow, too ; healthy, and likely 
to live. He was born on the 20th. Lady 
Chavasse, in her gladness, says she shall get 
well all one way. I think she will : the mind 
strangely influences the body. But my lady is 
a little hard — what some might call unforgiving. 
Her mother came very many miles, posting 
across country, to see her and be reconciled, 
and Lady Chavasse refused to receive her. 
Mrs. Cust had to go back again as she came. 
I should not like to see my wife treat her 
mother so. 

May 2pth, — The child is to be named 
Geoffry Arthur. Sir Peter had a dislike to his 
own name, and had said he hoped never to call 
a boy of his by the same. Lady Chavasse, 
mindful of his every wish, has fixed on the 
other two. I asked her if they were the names 
of relatives : she laughed and said, No ; she 
fixed on them because she thought them both 
nice-sounding and noble names. 

The above is all that need be copied from 



A Tale of Sin. 9 

Mr. Layne : one has to be chary of space. 
Litde Sir Geoffry grew and thrived : and it 
was a pleasure, people say, to see how happy 
his mother and he were, and how she devoted 
herself to him. He had come to her in the 
midst of her desolation, when she had nothing 
else to care for in life. It was already seen that 
he would be much like his father, who had been 
a very good-looking man in his day. Little 
Geoffry had Sir Peter's fair complexion and his 
dark-blue eyes. He was a sweet, tractable 
child ; and Lady Chavasse thought him just an 
angel come out of heaven. 

Time went on. When Geoffry was about 
seven years old — and a very pretty boy with 
fair curls — he went out surreptitiously on a fish- 
ing expedition, fell into the pond, and was 
nearly drowned. It left a severe cold upon 
him, which his nurse, Wilkins, said served him 
right. However, from that time he seemed to 
be less strong ; and at length Lady Chavasse 
took him to London to show him to the doctors^ 
The doctors told her he ought to be, for a time,, 
in a warmer climate ; and she went with him 
into Devonshire. But he still kept delicate. 
And the upshot was that Lady Chavasse let 
the Grange for a long term to the Goldingham 
family, and went away. 

And so, many years passed. The Golding- 
hams lived on at the Grange : and Lady 
Chavasse nearly slipped out of remembrance* 



lo Johnny Ludlozv. 

Mr. Layne grew into ill health as he got older, 
and advertised for a partner. It was Dufifham 
who answered it (a youngish man then), and 
they went into arrangements. 

It is necessary to say something . of Mr. 
Layne's children. There were four of them, 
girls. The eldest, Susan, married a Lieutenant 
Layne (some distant relative, who came from 
the West Indies), and went with him to India, 
where his regiment was serving, taking also her 
next sister, Eleanor. The third, Elizabeth, 
was at home ; the young one, Mary, born several 
years after the others, was in a school as gover- 
ness-pupil, or under-teacher. It is not often 
that village practitioners can save money, let 
alone make a fortune. 

The next thing was, that. Mr. Layne died. 
His death made all the difference to his family. 
Mr. Duff ham succeeded to the practice ; by 
arrangement he was to pay something yearly 
for five years to Mrs. Layne ; and she had a 
small income of her own. She would not quit 
the house ; it was hers now her husband was 
gone. Mr. Duffham took one opposite : a tall 
house with a bow-window to the parlour : before 
that, he had been in apartments. Mary Layne 
came home about this time, and stayed there 
for some weeks. She had been much over- 
worked in the school, and Mrs. Layne thought 
she required rest. She was a pleasing girl, with 
soft brown eyes and a nice face, and was very 



A Tale of Sin. 1 1 

good and gentle; thinking always of others, 
never of self. Old Duff ham may choose to 
deny it now he's got older, but he thought her 
superior then to the whole world. 

Matters were in this state when news spread 
that the Goldinghams had received notice to 
quit the Grange : Sir Geoffry, who would be of 
age the following year, was coming home to it 
with his mother. Accordingly, the Goldinghams 
departed ; and the place was re-embellished and 
put in order for the rightful owner. He arrived 
in April with Lady Chavasse : and Til copy for 
you what Duffham says about it. Mr. Layne 
had then been dead about two years. 

[From Mr. Duffhanis Diary.'] 

April 2gth. — The new people — or I suppose 
I ought to say the old people — reached the 
Grange yesterday, and I was called in to-day 
to the lady's-maid — Wilkins. My lady I don't 
like; Sir Geoffry I do. He is a good-looking, 
slight young man of middle height, with a fair, 
refined face and honest eyes, blue as they tell 
me Sir Peter's used to be. An honourable, 
well-intentioned young fellow I am sure ; affable 
and considerate as his mother is haughty. Poor 
Layne used to cry her up ; he thought great 
things of her. I do not. It may be that 
power has made her selfish, and foreign travel 
imperious ; but she's both selfish and imperious 
now. She is nice-looking still ; and though she 



12 Johnny Ludlow. 

wants but a year of forty, and her son is only 
one-and-twenty, they are almost like brother 
and sister. Or would be, but for Sir Geoffry's 
exceeding consideration for his mother ; his love 
and deference for her are ^ pattern to the young 
men of the present day. She has trained him 
to be obedient, that's certain, and to love her 
too : and so I suppose she has done her duty by 
him well. He came down the broad walk with 
me from the hall-door, talking of his mother : 
I had happened to say that the place must seem 
quite strange to Lady Chavasse. "Yes, it 
must,'' he answered. " She has exiled herself 
from it for my sake. Mr. Duffham," he con- 
tinued warmly, " you cannot imagine what an 
admirable mother mine has been ! She resigned 
ease, rest, society, to devote herself to me. 
She gave me a home-tutor, that she might her- 
self watch over and train me ; she went to and 
fro between England and foreign places with 
me perpetually; even when I was at Oxford^ 
she took a house a mile or two out that we 
might not be quite separated. I pray Heaven 
constantly that I may never cross her in thought, 
word, or deed : but live only to repay her love.'' 
Rather Utopian this : but I honour the young 
fellow for it. Fve only seen him for an hour at 
most, and am already wishing there were more 
like hmi in the world. If his mother has faults, 
he does not see them ; he will never honour 
any other woman as he honours her. A con- 



A Tale of Sin. 13 

trast, this, to the contempt, ingratitude, and 
disrespect that some sons think it manly to show 
their best and truest earthly parent. 

My lady is vexed, I can see, at this inoppor- 
tune illness of her maid's ; for the Grange is all 
agog with the preparations for the grand y?/^ to 
be held on the 20th of next month, when Sir 
Geoffry will come of age. Wilkins has been 
in the family for many years : she was originally 
the boy's nurse : and is quite the right hand of 
Lady Chavasse, so far as household management 
goes. Her illness just now is inopportune. 

\End,for the present^ of Mr. Dtiffhanis Diary 7\ 

Nothing was talked of, in the village or out 
■of it, but the grand doings that were to usher in 
the majority of Sir Geoffry. As to Lady Cha- 
vasse, few people had seen her. Her maid's 
illness, as was supposed, kept her indoors ; and 
some of the guests were already arriving at the 
Grange. 

One morning when it wanted about a week 
to the 20th, Mrs. Layne, making a pillow-case 
at her parlour window, in her widow's cap and 
spectacles, with the Venetian blind open to get 
all the light, was startled by seeing Lady Cha- 
vasse's barouche draw up to her door, and Lady 
Chavasse preparing to descend from it. Mrs. 
Layne instinctively rose, as to a superior, and 
tore her glasses off: it has been said she was of 
a humble turn : and upon Lady Chavasse fixing 



14 Johnny Ludlozo. 

her eyes upon her in what seemed some sur- 
prise, dropped a curtsey, and thought to herself 
how fortunate it was she happened to have put 
a clean new cap on . With that, Lady Chavasse 
said something to the footman, who banged the 
carriage-door to, and ordered the coachman 
across the road. Mrs. Layne understood it at 
once : she had come to the house in mistake for 
Duff ham's. Of course, with that grand carriage 
to look at opposite, and the gorgeous servants, 
and my lady, in a violet velvet mantle trimmed 
with ermine, alighting and stepping in to Duff- 
ham's, Mrs. Layne let fall her pillow-case, and 
did no more of it. But she was not prepared, 
when Lady Chavasse came out again with Mr. 
Duffham, to see him escort her over the road 
to her gate. Mrs. Layne had just time to open 
her parlour-door, and say to the servant, *^ In 
the other room ; show her ladyship into the 
other room,'' before she went off into complete 
bewilderment, and ran away with the pillow- 
case. 

The other room was the best room. Mary 
Layne sat there at the old piano, practising. 
She had seen and heard nothing of all this ; and 
rose up in astonishment when the invasion took 
place. A beautiful lady, whom Mary did not 
know or recognise, was holding out a delicately- 
gloved hand to her, and saying that she resem- 
bled her father. It was Mary Layne's first 
meeting with Lady Chavasse : she had just 



A Tale of Szn. 15 

come home again from some heavy place of 
teaching, finding her strength unequal to it. 

" I should have known you, I think, for a 
daughter of Mr. Layne's had I met you in the 
street/' said Lady Chavasse, graciously. 

Mary was blushing like anything. Lady 
Chavasse thought her an elegant girl, in spite 
of the shabby black silk she was dressed in : 
very pretty too. At least, it was a nice coun- 
tenance ; and my lady quite took to it. Mrs. 
Layne, having collected her wits, and taken off 
her apron, came in then : and Mary, who was 
humble-minded also, though not exactly in the 
same way that her mother was, modestly retired. 

My lady was all graciousness : just as much 
so that morning as she used to be. Perhaps 
the sight of Mrs. Layne put her in mind of the 
old days when she was herself suffering trouble 
in a widow's cap-, and not knowing how matters 
would turn out for her, or how they would not. 
She told Mrs. Laynethat she had, unthinkingly, bid 
her servants that morning drive to Mr. Layne s : 
and it was only when she saw Mrs. Layne at 
the window in her widow's cap, that she remem- 
bered the mistake. She talked of her son 
Geoffry, praising his worth and his goodness ; 
she bade Mrs. Layne to the pte on the 20th, 
seying she must come and bring her two daugh- 
ters, and she would take no denial. And Mrs. 
Layne, curtseying five hundred times — which 
did not become her, for she was short and stout 



1 6 Johnny Ludlow, 

— opened the front-door to her ladyship with 
her own hands, and stood there curtseying until 
the carriage had dashed away. 

"Well go on the 20th," she said to her 
daughters. " I didn't like to say nay to her 
ladyship ; and I'd be glad to see what the young 
heir's like. He was as pretty a boy as you'd 
wish to see. There'll no doubt be some people 
there of our own condition that we can mix with, 
and it will be in the open air : so we shan't feel 
strange." 

But when the day arrived, and they had 
reached the Grange, it seemed that they 
felt very strange. Whether amidst the crowds 
they did not find any of their "own condition," 
or that none were there, Mrs. Layne did not 
know. Once, they came near Lady Chavasse. 
Lady Chavasse surrounded by a bevy of people 
that Mrs. Layne took to be loords and ladies — 
and perhaps she was right — bowed distantly, 
and waved her hand, as much as to say, "Make 
yourselves at home, but don't trouble me :" and 
Mrs. Layne curtseyed herself to a respectful 
distance. It was a fine bright day, very warm ; 
and she sat on a bench in the park with her 
daughters, listening to the band, looking at the 
company, and wondering which was the heir. 
Some hours seemed to pass in this way, and 
gradually the grounds grew deserted. People 
were eating and drinking in a distant tent — the 
lords and ladies Mrs. Layne supposed, and she 



A Tale of Sin. 1 7 

did not presume to venture amongst them. 
Presently a young man approached, who had 
observed from a distance the solitary group. A 
fat old lady in widow's mourning; and the 
younger ones in pretty white bonnets and new 
black silks. 

" Will you allow me to take you where you 
will get some refreshment T he said, raising his 
hat, and addressing Mrs. Layne. 

She paused before answering, taken aback 
by his looks, as she described it afterwards, for 
he put her in mind of Sir Peter. It was as 
nice a face as Sir Peter's used to be, clean- 
shaved, except for the light whiskers : and if 
those were not Sir Peter's kindly blue eyes, 
why her memory failed her. But the dress 
puzzled Mrs. Layne : he wore a dark-blue frock 
coat and grey trousers, a white waistcoat with a 
thin gold chain passed across it and a drooping 
seal : all very nice and gentlemanly certainly, 
but quite plain. What she had expected to see 
the heir attired in, Mrs. Layne never afterwards 
settled with herself : perhaps purple and miniver. 

" I beg your pardon, sir," she said, speak- 
ing at length, '* but I think you must be Sir 
Geoffry ?" 

*' Yes, I am Sir Geoffry." 

'* Lord bless me !" cried Mrs. Layne. 

She told him, curtseying, who she was, adding, 
as an apology for being found there, that her 
ladyship had invited her and her girls, and 

VOL. II. 2 



i8 Johnny Ludlow, 

wouldn't take a denial. Geoffry held out his 
arm cordially to lead her to the tent, and 
glanced behind at the *' girls," remembering 
what his mother had said to him of one of them : 
*'a sweet-looking young woman, Geoffry, poor 
Layne's daughter, quite elegant." Yes, she was 
sweet-looking and elegant also, Geoffry decided. 
The elder one was like her mother, short, stout, 
and — Geoffry could not help seeing it — common. 
He told Mrs. Laynethat he could remember her 
husband still : he spoke of a ride the doctor had 
taken him, seated before him on his horse ; and 
altogether in that short minute or two won, by 
his true affability, the heart of the doctor's 
widow. 

The tent was crowded to confusion. Waiters 
were running about, and there was much clatter 
of knives and forks. Sir Geoffry could find 
but two places anywhere ; at which he seated 
Mrs. Layne and her daughter Elizabeth, accord- 
ing to precedence. 

" I will find you a place in the other tent, if 
you will come with me," he said to Mary. 

She wished to refuse. She had a suspicion 
that the other tent was the one for the ** lords 
and ladies," people who were altogether above 
her. But Sir Geoffry was holding up the 
canvas for her to pass out, and she was too 
timid to disobey. He walked by her side 
nearly in silence, speaking a courteous word 
or two only, to put her at her ease. The band 



A Tale of Sin. 19 

was playing " The Roast Beef of Old Eng- 
land." 

But the other tent seemed in worse confusion 
as far as crowding went. Some one turned on 
her seat to accost Sir Geoffry : a slight, up- 
right girl, with finely-carved features of that 
creamy white rarely seen, and a haughty expres- 
sion in her very light eyes. 

" You are being waited for, Geoffry. Don't 
you know that you preside ?" 

*' No ; nonsense,*' he answered. *' There's 
to be nothing of that kind, Rachel ; no presid- 
ing. I am going to walk about and look out 
for stray people. Some of the strangers will 
get nothing, if they are not seen after. Could 
you make room for one by you V^ 

'' Who is it ?" she asked. 

Sir Geoffry said a word in her ear, and she 
moved a few inches higher up. He stepped 
back to Mary Layne. She had been looking 
at the young lady, who was so richly dressed — 
in some thin material of shining blue and lace — 
and who was so entirely at her ease as to be 
sitting without her bonnet, which she had put 
at her feet. 

" We have made a place for you," said Sir 
Geoffry. ** I fear you will be a little crowded. 
Miss Layne, Rachel," 

Mary waited to thank him before taking it. 
Her cheeks were full of blushes, her soft dark 
eyes went out to his. She felt ashamed that he 

2 — ^ 



20 Johnny Ludlow. 

should take so much trouble for her, and strove 
to say it. Sir Geoffry held her hand while he 
answered, his own eyes looking back again. 

But Mary sat for some minutes before any- 
one came to wait on her. The young lady 
whom Sir Geoffry had called Rachel was busy 
with her own plate, and did not observe. Pre- 
sently, she looked round. 

" Dear me ! what are they about ? Field !" 
she imperatively called out to the butler, who 
was passing. He turned at once. 

*' My lady ?" 

" Have the goodness to attend here,*' said 
Lady Rachel, indicating the vacant space before 
Miss Layne. " This young lady has had no- 
thing." 

"So I am amidst the lords and ladies," 
thought Mary, as the butler presented her with 
a card of the dishes, made out in French, and 
inquired what she would be pleased to take. 
She was inexperienced and shy ; and did not 
know where to look or what to say. Lady 
Rachel spoke to her once or twice, and was 
civilly distant : and so the half-hour was got 
over. When Sir Geoffry's health was proposed 
by Lord L., the young baronet suddenly ap- 
peared in his rightful place at the table's head. 
He thanked them all very heartily in a few 
words ; and said he hoped he shotdd live long, 
as they had all just been wishing him, live that 
he might repay his dear mother one tithe of the 



A Tale of Sin. 2 1 

sacrifices she had made, and the love she had 
lavished on him. 

The cheers broke forth as he finished, his 
eyes wet with the sincerity of his feeling, the 
music burst out with a crash, ^* See the conquer- 
ing hero comes," and Mary Layne felt every 
nerve thrill within her ; as if she would faint 
with the excess of the unwonted emotion. 

\Mr. Duffhanis Diary. '\ 
Jttne 2nd. — The rejoicings are well over, and 
Sir Geoffry Chavasse is his own master. In 
law, at any rate ; but it strikes me he will never 
know any will but his mother's. It's not that 
he possesses none of his own — rather the con- 
trary I fancy ; but in his filial love and reverence 
he merges it in hers. It is, on the one hand, 
good to see ; on the other, one can but fancy 
his ideal of the fifth commandment is somewhat 
exaggerated. Lady Chavasse on her part 
seems bound up in him. To him there is no 
sign of imperiousness, no assertion of self-will : 
and, so far as can be seen, she does not exact 
deference. " Geoffry, would you wish this ?" 
she says. " Geoffry, would you like the other "i 
My darling Geoffry, don't you think it might 
be well to do so-and-so ?" No. It is a case 
of true genuine filial respect and love ; and one 
can but honour Lady Chavasse for having 
gained it. 

My lady has condescended to be almost con- 



22 Johnny Ludlow. 

fidential with me. The illness of her maid has 
been a long and serious one, and I have had to 
be a good deal at the Grange. ** Sir Geoffry is 
engaged to be married, Mr. Duffham/' she said 
to me yesterday, when our conversation had 
turned — as it often does turn — on Sir Geoffry. 
I could not help showing some surprise : and, 
one word leading to another, I soon grasped the 
whole case. Not so much by what she directly 
said, as by the habit I have of putting two-and- 
two together. 

Conspicuous amidst the guests at the file on 
the 20th of May, was Lady Rachel Derreston : 
a cold, self-possessed girl, with strictly classical 
features, and the palest blue eyes I ever saw. 
It would be a very handsome face — and indeed 
is — but for the cold, proud expression ; she is 
the daughter of one of Lady Chavasse's sisters, 
who married the Earl of Derreston, and is now 
a very slender-portioned widow with some ex- 
pensive daughters. It is to this Lady Rachel 
that Sir Geoffry is engaged. The engagement 
is not of his own seeking, or of hers ; the two 
mothers settled it between them when the chil- 
dren were young ; they have been brought up 
to look on each other as future husband and 
wife, and have done so as a matter-of-course. 
Neither of them, by what I can gather, has the 
slightest intention, or wish, to turn aside from 
fulfilling the contract : they will ratify it in just 
the same business manner and with the same 



A Tale of Sin. 2 



n 



calm feelings that they would take the lease of 
a house. It is not their fault : they should not 
have been led into it. Human nature is cross 
and contrary as a sour crab : had the two young 
people been thrown together now for the first 
time, and been warned not to fall in love with 
each other, the chances are they'd have tumbled 
headlong into it before the week was out : as it 
is, they like each other as cousins, or brother and 
sister, but they'll never get beyond that. / can 
see. The two old sisters have a private under- 
standing with each other — and my young Lady 
Rachel dutifully falls in with it — that after the 
marriage Lady Chavasse shall still live and rule 
at the Grange. Indeed she implied it when 
she let fall the words, perhaps unthinkingly — 
" Geoffry would never marry to put me out of 
my home here, Mr. Duffham." And I am sure 
that he never would. 

Lady Rachel is here still. I often see her 
and Sir Geoffry together, indoors or out ; but I 
have never yet seen a symptom of courtship on 
either side. They call each other " Geoffry " 
and *' Rachel ;" and are as indifferently familiar 
as brother and sister. That they will be suffi- 
ciently happy with a quiet, moonlight kind of 
happiness, is nearly sure. I find that I am 
not at liberty to mention this engagement 
abroad : and that's why I say my lady has 
grown confidential with me. 

June 2()tk, — Wilkins continues very ill; and 



24 Johnny Ludlow. 

it puts tny lady about amazingly. The maid 
who has been taking Wilkins's duties, Hester 
Picker, is a country girl of the locality, Goody 
Picker's daughter ; her services being as dif- 
ferent from those of the easy, experienced 
Wilkins, as dark is from light. ** She manages 
my hair atrociously," cried my lady to me one 
day in her vexation ; *' she attempted to write 
a note for me in answer to inquiries for the 
character of my late page, and the spelling was 
so bad it could not be sent." 

Lady Rachel has left. Sir Geoffry escorted 
her to her home (near Bath), stayed two 
days there, and came back again. And glad 
to be back, evidently : he does not care to 
be long separated from his mother. The more 
I see of this young fellow, the more I like him. 
He has no bad habits ; does not smoke or 
swear : reads, rides, drives, loves flowers, and 
is ever ready to do a good turn for rich or poor. 
*' You appear to have grown up quite strong. 
Sir Geoffry," I said to him to-day when we 
were in the greenhouse, and he leaped on a 
ledge to do something or other to the broken 
cord of the window. " Oh, quite," he answered. 
" I think I am stronger and heartier than most 
men : and I owe the thanks for it to my mother. 
It was not only my health of body she cared 
for and watched over, but of mind. She taught 
me to love rational pursuits, in contradistinction 
to those irrational; she showed me how to 



A Tale of Sin. 25 

choose the good, and reject the evil : it is she 
alone who has made me what I am." 

July 5//J. — Mary Layne is going to the Grange 
as companion to Lady Chavasse. ** Humble 
companion," as my lady takes care to put it. 
It has been brought about in this way. Wilkins 
is slightly improving: but it will be months 
before she can resume her duties about Lady 
Chavasse : and my lady has at length got this 
opinion out of me. " Five or six months !" 
she exclaimed in dismay. ** But it is only what 
I have lately suspected. Mr. Duffham, I have 
been thinking that I must take a companion ; 
and now this has confirmed it. A humble com- 
panion, who will not object to do my hair on 
state occasions, and superintend Picker's trim-^ 
ming of my dresses, especially the lace ; and 
who will write notes for me when I desire it, 
and read to me when Sir Geoffry's not here ; 
and sit with me if I wish it. She'd not dine 
with us, of course ; but I might sometimes let 
her sit down to luncheon. In short, what I 
want is a well-educated lady-like young woman^ 
who will make herself useful. Do you happen 
to know of one T ' 

I mentioned Mary Layne. She has been 
wishing not to return to the heavy work and 
confinement of a school, where she had to sit 
up late, night after night, correcting exercises, 
and touching up drawings by gas-light. My 
lady caught at it at once. *' Mary Layne ! the 



26 Johnny Ludlow. 

very thing. I like the look of the girl much, 
Mr. Duffham ; and of course she'll not be above 
doing anything required of her : Layne, the 
apothecary's daughter, cannot be called a gentle- 
woman in position, you know." 

She forgot I was an a;pothecary also ; FU 
give her that credit. But this is a specimen of 
the way my lady's exclusive spirit peeps out. 

And so it is settled. And if Miss Mary had 
been suddenly offered a position in the Royal 
household, she could not have thought more of 
it. ** Mr. Duffham, I will try my very best to 
satisfy Lady Chavasse," says she to me in an 
ecstasy ; " Til do anything and everything re- 
quired of me : who am I that I should be above 
it T And by the glistening of her sweet brown 
eyes, and the rose bloom on her cheeks, it 
would seem that she expects she's going into 
fairy-land. Well, the Grange is a nice place: 
and she is to have thirty guineas a year. At 
the last school she had twenty pounds ; at the 
first ten. 

\End of the Diary for the present, ~\ 



Miss Layne entered the Grange with trepida- 
tion. She had never been inside the house, and 
at first she thought it was fairy-land realised, 
and that she was out of place in it. A broad 
flight of three or four steps led up to the wide 
entrance-door ; the beauteous colours from the 



A Tale of Sin. 2 7 

painted windows shone on the mosaic-flagged 
hall ; on the right were the grand drawing- 
rooms ; on the left the dining-room and Sir 
Geoffry s library. Behind the library, going 
down a step or two, was a low, shady apart- 
ment, its glass doors opening on a small grass- 
plat, round which flowers were planted ; and 
beyond it lay the fragrant herbary. This little 
room was called the garden-room ; and on the 
morning of Miss Layne's arrival, after she had 
taken off" her things, Hester Picker (who 
thought as much nearly of the old surgeon's 
daughter as she did of my lady) curtseyed her 
into It, and said it was to be Miss Layne's 
sitting-room, when she was not with my lady. 

Mary Layne looked around. She thought it 
charming. It had an old Turkey carpet, and 
faded red chairs, and a shabby checked cloth on 
the table, with other ancient furniture ; but the 
subdued light was grateful after the garish July 
sun, and the sweetness came in from the herbs 
and flowers. Mary stood, wondering what she 
had to do first, and not quite daring to sit down 
even on one of the old red chairs. The Grange 
was the Grange, and my lady was my lady ; and 
they were altogether above the sphere in which 
she had been brought up. She had a new lilac 
muslin dress on, fresh and simple ; her smooth 
brown hair had a bit of lilac ribbon in it ; and 
she looked as pretty and lady-like as a girl can 
look. Standing at the back there beyond the 



28 Johnny Ludlow. 

table, was she, when Sir Geoffry walked in at the 
glass doors, his light summer coat thrown back, 
and a heap of small paper packets in his hands, 
containing seeds. At first he looked astonished: 
not remembering: her. 

'* Oh, I beg your pardon!" he exclaimed, his face 
lighting up, as he took off his straw hat. " Miss 
Mary Layne, I think. I did not know you at 
the minute. My mother said she expected you 
to-day." 

He came round to her with outstretched 
hand, and then put a chair for her, just as 
though she had been a duchess — or Lady 
Rachel Derreston. Mary did not take the 
chair : she felt strange in her new home, and as 
yet very timid. 

** I am not sure what Lady Chavasse would 
wish me to do," she ventured to say, believing 
it might be looked upon as next door to a crime 
to be seen idle, in a place where she was to 
receive thirty guineas a year. ** There appears 
to be no work here." 

'^ Get a book and read !" cried Sir Geoffry. 
" rU find you one as soon as I have put up these 
seeds. A box of new novels has just come 
from town. I hope you will make yourself at 
home with us, and be happy," he added in his 
kindness. 

*' Thank you, sir ; I am sure I shall." 

He was putting up the seeds, when Lady 
Chavasse entered. She had a way of taking 



A Tale of Sin. 29 

likes and dislikes, and she never scrupled to 
show either. On this first day, it seemed that 
she did not know how to make enough of Mary. 
She chose to forget that she was only to be the 
humble companion, and treated her as a guest. 
She carried her in to take luncheon with herself 
and Sir GeofFry ; she made her play and sing ; 
she showed her the drawinqr-rooms and the 
flower-gardens, and finally took her out in the 
barouche. She certainly did not ask her in to 
dinner, but said she should expect her to come 
to the drawing-room afterwards, and spend the 
evening. And Miss Layne, not ignorant of 
the customs obtaining in great houses, dressed 
herself for it in her one evening dress of white 
spotted muslin, and changed the lilac ribbon in 
her hair for blue. 

So that, you perceive, the girl was inaugurated 
at the Grange as a young lady, almost as an 
equal, and not as a servant — as Lady Chavasse's 
true opinion would have classed her. That was 
mistake the first. For it led Sir Geofiry to 
make a companion of Miss Layne ; that is, to 
treat her as though she belonged to their order ; 
which otherwise he certainly would not have 
done. Had Miss Layne been assigned her true 
place at first — the place that Lady Chavasse 
meant her to fill, that of an inferior and humble 
dependent — Sir Geoffry, out of simple respect 
to the girl and to his mother, would have kept 
his distance. 



30 Johnny Ludlow. 

As the time passed on they grew great friends. 
Lady Chavasse retained her liking for Mary, 
and saw no harm in the growing intimacy with 
Sir Geoffry. That was mistake the second. 
Both of them were drifting into love ; but Lady 
Chavasse dreamt it not. The social gulf that 
spread itself between Sir Geoffry Chavasse, of 
Chavasse Grange, and Mary Layne, daughter of 
the late hard-worked village apothecary, was 
one that Lady Chavasse would have said (had 
she been asked to think about it) could never 
be bridged over : and for this very reason she 
saw no danger in the intercourse. She regarded 
Mary Layne as of a totally different caste from 
themselves, and never supposed but Sir Geoffry 
did too. 

And so time went on, on the wings of love. 
There were garden walks together and moon- 
light saunterings ; meetings in my lady s pre- 
sence, meetings without it. Sir Geoffry, going 
in and out of the garden-parlour at will, as he 
had been accustomed to do — for it was where 
all kinds of things belonging to him were kept : 
choice seeds, his fishing-rods, his collection of 
butterflies — would linger there by the hour 
together, talking to Mary at her work. And, 
before either of them was conscious of the 
danger, they had each passed into a dream that 
changed everything about them to Paradise. 

Of course Sir Geoffry, when he awoke to 
the truth — that it was love — ought to have gone 



A Tale of Sin. 3 1 

away. Or have contrived to get his mother to 
dismiss Miss Layne. He did nothing of the 
sort. And, for this, some people — Duff ham for 
one — held him even more to blame than for any- 
thing that happened afterwards. But how could 
he voluntarily blight his newhappiness,and hers? 
It was so intense as to absorb every other feel- 
ing ? it took his common sense away from him. 
And thus they went dreaming on together in 
that one spring-time (of the heart, not of the 
weather), and never thought about sliding into 
shoals and pitfalls. 

In the autumn my lady went to the seaside 
in Cornwall, taking Mary as her maid, and 
escorted by her son. *^Will you do for me 
what I want while I am away ? I do not care 
to be troubled with Picker," she had said ; and 
Mary replied, as in duty bound, that she would. 
It is inconvenient to treat a maid as a lady, 
especially in a strange place, and Mary found 
that during this sojourn Lady Chavasse did not 
attempt it. To all intents and purposes Mary 
was the maid now ; she did not sit with her lady, 
she took her meals apart ; she was, in fact, re- 
garded as the lady s-maid by all, and nothing 
else. Lady Chavasse even took to call her 
'* Layne." This, the sudden dethroning her of 
her social status, was the third mistake; and 
this one, as the first, was my lady's. Sir Geoffry 
had been led to regard her as a companion; 
now he saw her but as a servant. But, servant 



32 Jo/m7ty Ltidlow. 

or no servant, you cannot put love out of the 
heart, once it has possession of it. 

At the month's end they returned home : and 
there Mary found that she was to retain this 
low station ; never aofain would she be exalted 
as she had been. Lady Chavasse had tired of 
the new toy, and just carelessly allowed her to 
find her own level. Except that Miss Layne 
sat in the garden parlour, and her meals were 
served there, she was not much distinguished 
from Hester Picker and the other servants ; in- 
deed, Picker sometimes sat in the parlour too, 
when they had lace, or what not, to mend for 
my lady. Geoffry in his heart was grieved at 
the changed treatment of Miss Layne ; he 
thought it wrong and unjust ; and to make up 
for the mistake, was with her a great deal him- 
self. 

Things were in this position when Lady Cha- 
vasse was summoned to Bath : her sister, Lady 
Derreston, was taken ill. Sir Geoffry escorted 
her thither. Picker was taken, not Miss Layne. 
In the countess's small household, Mary, in her 
anomalous position — for she could not be alto- 
gether put with the servants — would have been 
an inconvenience : and my lady bade her make 
herself happy at the Grange, and left her a lot 
of fine needlework to get through. 

Leaving his mother in Bath, Sir Geoffry went 
to London, stayed a week or so, and then came 
to the Grange. Another week or two, and he 



A Tale of Sin. 33 

returned to Bath to bring his mother home. And 
so the winter set in, and wore on. And now all 
that has to be told to the paper's end is taken 
from diaries, Duff ham's and others. But for con- 
venience' sake, I put it as though the words were 
my own, instead of copying literally. 



Spring came in early. February was not 
quite at an end, and the trees were beginning 
to show their green. All the month it had been 
warm weather ; but people said it was too re- 
laxing for the season, and they and the trees 
should suffer for it later. A good bit of sickness 
was going about ; and, amidst others who had 
to give in for a time, was Duff ham himself He 
got inflammation of the lungs. His brother 
Luke, who was partner in a medical firm else- 
where, came to Church Dykely for a week or 
two, to take the patients. Luke was a plain- 
speaking man of forty, with rough hair, and a 
good heart. 

The afternoon after he arrived, an applicant 
came into the surgery with her daughter. It 
was Mrs. Layne, but the temporary doctor did 
not know her. Mrs. Layne never did look like 
a lady, and he did not take her for one : he 
thought it some respectable country woman : she 
had flung a very ancient cloak over her worn 
morning gown. She expressed herself dis- 

VOL. II. % 



34 Johnny Ludlow. 

appointed at not seeing Mr. Duffham, but 
opened the consultation with the brother instead. 
Mrs. Layne took it for granted she was known^ 
and talked accordingly. 

Her daughter, whom she kept calling Mary, 
and nothing else, had been ailing lately; she, 
Mrs. Layne, could not think what was the matter 
with her, unless it was the unusually warm 
spring. She got thinner and weaker daily ; her 
cheeks were pale, her eyes seemed to have no 
life in them ; she was very low in spirits ; yet, in 
spite of all this, Mary had kept on saying it was 
'* nothing." My Lady Chavasse — returning home 
from London yesterday, whither she had accom- 
panied her son a week or two ago, and whom 
she had left there — was so much struck with the 
change she saw in Mary, who lived with her as 
humble companion, Mrs. Layne added, in a 
parenthesis, that she insisted on her seeing 
Mr. Duffham, that he might prescribe some 
tonics. And accordingly Mary had walked to 
her mother s this afternoon. 

Mr. Luke Duffham listened to all this with 
one ear, as it were. He supposed it might be 
the warm spring, as suggested. However, he 
took Mary into the patients' room, and examined 
her: felt her pulse, looked at her tongue, sounded 
her chest, with all the rest of it that doctors 
treat their clients to ; and asked her this, that, 
and the other — about five-and-twenty questions, 
when perhaps five might have done. The up- 



A Tale of Sin. 35 

shot of it all was, that Mary Layne went off in 
a dead faint. 

**What on earth can be the matter with 
her?" cried the alarmed mother, when they had 
brought her round. 

Mr. Luke Duffham, going back to the surgery 
with Mrs. Layne, shut the doors, and told her 
what he thought it was. It so startled the old 
lady that she backed against the counter and 
upset the scales. 

" How dare you say so, sir !" 
*' But I am sure of it," returned Mr. Luke. 
"Lord be good to me!" gasped Mrs. Layne, 
looking like one terrified out of her seven senses. 
** The worst I feared was that it might be con- 
sumption. A sister of mine died in it." 

*' Where shall I send the medicine to ?" in- 
quired the doctor. 

''Anywhere. Over the way, if you like," 
continued Mrs. Layne, in her perturbation. 
" Certainly. Where to, over the way ?" 
" To my house. Don't you know me ? I 
am the widow of your brother's late partner. 
This unhappy child is the one he was fondest 
of ; she is only nineteen, much younger than the 
rest." 

*' Mrs. Layne 1" thought Luke Duffham, in 
surprise, ** I wish I had known ; I might have 
hesitated before speaking plainly. But where 
would have been the good ?" 

The first thing Mrs. Layne did, was to ^Mt 

o— ^ 



36 Johnny Ludlow. 

her own door against Mary, and send her back 
to the Grange in a shower of anger. She was 
an honest old lady, of most irreproachable 
character ; never needing, as she phrased it, to 
have had a blush on her cheek, for herself or 
anybody belonging to her. In her indignation, 
she could have crushed Mary to the earth. 
Whatever it might be that the poor girl had 
done, robbed a church, or shot its parson, her 
mother deemed that she deserved hanging, 

Mary Layne walked back to the Grange : 
where else had she to go ? Broken-hearted, 
humiliated, weak almost unto death, she was 
like a reed in her mother's hands, yielding her- 
self to any command given ; and only wishing 
she mighr die. Lady Chavasse, compassionat- 
ing her evident suffering, brought her a glass of 
wine with her own hand, and inquired what Mr. 
Duffham said, and whether he was going to give 
her tonics. Instead of answering, Mary went 
into another faint : and my lady thought she 
had over- walked herself. " I wish I had sent 
her in the carriage," said she, kindly. And 
while the wish was yet upon her lips, Mrs. 
Layne arrived at the Grange, to request an 
audience of her ladyship. 

Then was commotion. My lady talked and 
stormed, Mrs. Layne talked and cried. Both 
were united in one thing — the heaping of re- 
proaches on Mary. They were in the grand 
drawing-room — where my lady had been sitting 



A Tale of Sin. 37 

Avhen Mrs. Layne was shown in. Lady 
Chavasse sat back, furious and scornful, in 
her pink velvet chair ; Mrs. Layne stood ; Mary 
had sunk on the carpet kneeling, her face bent, 
her clasped hands raised as if imploring mercy. 
This group was suddenly broken in upon by Sir 
Geoffry — who had but then reached the Grange 
from town. They were too noisy to notice him. 
Halting in dismay, he had the pleasure of catch- 
ing a sentence or two addressed to the unhappy 
Mary. 

" The best thing you can do is to find refuge 
in the workhouse," stormed Lady Chavasse. 
** Out of my house you turn this hour." 

" The best thing you can do is to go on the 
tramp, where you won't be known," amended 
Mrs. Layne, who was nearly beside herself with 
conflicting emotions. " Never again shall you 
enter the home that was your poor dead father's. 
You wicked girl ! — and you hardly twenty years 
old yet! But, my lady, I can but think — 
though I know we are humble people, as com- 
pared with you, and perhaps I've no right to 
say it — that Sir Geoffry has not behaved like a 
gentleman." 

** Hold your tongue, woman," said her Lady- 
ship. " Sir Geoffry " 

** Sir Geoffry is at least enough of a gentle- 
man to take his evil deeds on himself, and not 
shift them on others," spoke the baronet, step- 
ping forward — and the unexpected interruptioa 



38 Johnny Ludlow. 

was startling to them all. My lady pointed im- 
peratively to the door, but he stood his ground. 

It was no doubt a bitter moment for him ; 
bringing home to him an awful amount of self- 
humiliation : for throughout his life he had 
striven to do right instead of wrong. And 
when these better men yield to temptation 
instead of fleeing from it, the re-acting sting 
is of the sharpest. The wisest and strongest 
sometimes fall : and find too late that, though 
the fall was so easy, the picking-up is of all 
things most diflicult. Sir Geoffry's face was 
white as death. 

'* Get up, Mary," he said gently, taking her 
hand to help her in all respect. " Mrs. Layne," 
he added, turning to face the others ; " my dear 
mother — if I may dare still to call you so — 
suffer me to say a word. For all that has taken 
place, I am alone to blame ; on me only must it 
rest. The fault- " 

**Sin, sir," interrupted Mrs. Layne. 

" Yes. Thank you. Sin. The sin lies with 
me, not with Mary. In my presence reproach 
shall not be visited on her. She has enough 
trouble to bear without that. I wish to heaven 
that I had never — Mrs. Layne, believe me," he 
resumed, after the breaking pause, " no one can 
feel this more keenly than L And, if circum- 
stances permit me to make reparation, I will 
make it !" 

Sir Geoffry wanted (circumstances permitting, 



A Tale of Sin. 39 

as he shortly put it) to marry Mary Layne ; he 
wished to do it. Takings his mother into 
another room, he told her this. Lady Chavasse 
simply thought him mad. She grew a little 
afraid of him, lest he should set her and all high 
rules of propriety at nought, and do it. 

But trouble like this cannot be settled in an 
hour. Lady Chavasse, in her great fear, con- 
ciliated just a little : she did not turn Miss 
Layne out at once, as threatened, but suffered 
her to remain at the Grange for the night. 

" In any case, whatever may be the ending of 
this, it is not from my family that risk of ex- 
posure must come,'* spoke Sir Geoffry, in a tone 
of firmness. " It might leave me no alternative.'* 

"No alternative T repeated Lady Chavasse. 

** How r 

** Between my duty to you, and my duty to 
her," said Sir Geoffry. And my lady's heart 
fainted within her at the suggested fear. 



They were together in the library at Chavasse 
Grange, Lady Chavasse and her only son, 
Geoffry. It was early morning ; they had sat 
in the breakfast- room making a show of 
partaking of the morning meal, each of them 
with that bitte;* trouble at the heart that had 
been known only — to my lady, at least — since 
the previous day. But the farce of speak- A 



40 Johnny Ludlow. 

ing in monosyllables to one another could not 
be kept up — the trouble had to be dealt with, 
and without delay ; and when the poor meal 
could no longer be prolonged by any artifice. 
Sir Geoffry held open the door for his mother 
to pass through, and crossed the hall with her 
to the library. Shut within its thick walls they 
could discuss the secret in safety ; no eye to see 
them, no ear to hear. 

Sir Geoffry mechanically stirred the fire, and 
placed a chair for his mother near it. The 
weather appeared to be changing. Instead of 
the unseasonable relaxing warmth that had 
been upon the earth up to the previous day, a 
cold north-east wind had set in, enough to 
freeze people's marrow. The skies were grey 
and lowering ; the trees shook and moaned : 
winter was taking up his place again. 

So much the better. Blue skies and bright- 
ness would hardly have accorded with Sir 
Geoffry's spirit. He might have to endure 
many cruel visitations ere he died, but never a 
one so cruel as this. No evil that heaven can 
send upon us, or man inflict, is so hard to bear 
as self-reproach. 

If ever a son had- idolised a mother, it had 
surely been Geoffry Chavasse. They had 
been knit together in the strongest bonds of 
filial love. His whole thought from his boy- 
hood had been her comfort : to have sacrificed 
himself for her, if needs must, would have been 



A Tale of Sin. 41 

a cheerful task. When he came of age, not 
yet so very many months ago, he had resolved 
that his whole future life should be devoted to 
promote her happiness — as her life had been 
devoted to him in the days of his sickly boy- 
hood. Her wishes were his ; her word his 
law ; he would have died rather than cause her 
a moment's pain. 

And how had he, even thus early, fulfilled 
this ? Look at him, as he leans against the 
heavy frame-work of the window, drawn back 
from it that the light may not fall on his sub- 
dued face. The brow is bent in grievous doubt ; 
the dark-blue eyes, generally so honestly clear, 
are hot with trouble ; the bright hair hangs 
limp. Yes ; he would have died rather than 
bring his mother pain : that was his true creed 
and belief; but, like many another whose 
resolves are made in all good faith, he had 
signally failed, even while he was thinking it^ 
and brought pain to her in a crushing heap. 
He hated himself as he looked at her pale 
countenance ; at the traces of tears in her heavy 
eyes. Never a minute's sleep had she had the 
previous night, it was plain to be seen ; and, as 
for him, he had paced his chamber until morn- 
ing, not attempting to go to rest. But there 
was a task close before him, heavier than any 
that had gone before ; heavier even than this 
silent repentance — the deciding what was to be 
done in the calamity ; and Sir Geoffry knew 



42 Johnny Ludlow. 

that his duty to his mother and his duty to an- 
other would clash. All the past night he had 
been earnestly trying to decide which of the 
two might be evaded with the least sin — and he 
thought he saw which. 

Lady Chavasse had taken the chair he placed 
for her ; sitting upright in it, and waiting for 
him to speak. She knew, as well as he, that 
this next hour would decide their fate in life : 
whether they should still be together, a loving 
mother and son ; or whether they should become 
estranged, and separate for ever. He crossed 
to the fire-place and put his elbow on the 
mantel-piece, shielding his eyes with his hand. 
Just a few words, he said, of his sense of shame 
and sorrow; of regret that he should have 
brought this dishonour on himself and his 
mother's home ; of hope that he might be per- 
mitted, by heaven and circumstances, to work 
out his repentance, in endeavouring daily, 
hourly, constantly, to atone to her for it — to 
her, his greatly-loved mother. And then — 
lifting his face from the hand that had partially 
hidden it — he asked her to be patient, and to 
hear him without interruption a little further. 
And Lady Chavasse bowed her head in ac- 
quiescence. 

" Nothing remains for me but to marry Miss 
Layne," he began : and my lady, as she heard the 
expected avowal, bit her compressed lips. ** It 
is the only course open to me ; unless I would 



A Tale of Sin. 43 

forfeit every claim to honour, and to the respect 
of upright men. If you will give your con- 
sent to this,- the evil may be in a degree re- 
paired ; nothing need ever be known ; Mary's 
good name may be saved — mine, too, if it comes 
to that — and eventually we may be all happy 
together " 

** Do not try me too much, Geoffry," came 
the low interruption. 

*' Mother, you signified that you would hear 
me to the end. I wall not try you more than I 
can help ; but it is necessary that I should speak 
fully. All last night I was walking about my 
room in self-commune ; deliberating what way 
was open, if any, that it would be practicable to 
take — and I saw but this one. Let me marry 
her. It will be easy of accomplishment — speak- 
ing in reference to appearances and the world. 
She might go for a week or two to her mother s ; 
for a month or two, if it were thought better 
and less suspicious,; there is no pressing hurry. 
We could then be married quietly, and go 
abroad for a year or so, or for longer ; and 
come back together to the Grange, and be your 
dutiful and loving children always, just as it was 
intended I and Rachel should be. But that 
you have liked Mary Layne very much, I might 
have felt more difficulty in proposing this.'' 

'* I have liked her as my servant," said Lady 
Chavasse, scornfully. 

*' Pardon me, you have liked her as a lady. 



44 Johnny Ludlow. 

Do you remember once saying — it was when 
she first came — that if you had had a daughter 
you could have wished her to be just like Mary 
Layne. Before I ever saw her, you told me 
she was a sweet, elegant young woman ; and — 
mother — she is nothing less. Oh, mother, 
mother !" continued Sir Gecffry, with emotion, 
'* if you will but forget your prejudices for my 
sake, and consent to what I ask, we would en- 
deavour to be ever repaying you in love and' 
services during our after-life. I know what a 
great sacrifice it will be ; but for my sake I ven- 
ture to crave it of you — for my sake." 

A great fear lay upon Lady Chavasse : it 
had lain on her ever since the previous day 
— that he might carry this marriage out of his 
own will. So that she dared not answer too 
imperatively. She was bitterly hurt, and caught 
up her breath with a sob. 

" Do you want to kill me, Geoffry ?" 

*• Heaven knows that I wish I had been 
killed, before I brought this distress upon you,'' 
was his rejoinder. 

" I am distressed. I have never felt any- 
thing like it since your father died. No ; not 
once when you, a child of seven, were given 
over in illness, and it was thought you would 
not live till morning." 

Sir Geofifry passed his hand hastily across his 
eyes, in which stood the hot tears. His heart 
was sore, nearly unto breaking ; his ingratitude 



A Tale of Sin. 45 

to his mother seemed fearfully great. He 
longed to throw himself at her feet, and clasp 
her knees, and tell how deep for her was his 
love, how true and deep it always would be. 

" Though the whole world had united to de- 
ceive me, Geoffry, I could never have believed 
that you would. Why did you pretend to be 
fond of Rachel ?" 

" I never pretended to be fonder of Rachel 
than I was. I liked her as a cousin, nothing 
more. I know it now. And — mother" — he 
added, with a flush upon his face, and a drop- 
ping of the voice, ** it is better and safer that the 
knowledge should have come to me before our 
marriage than after it." 

" Nonsense," said Lady Chavasse. '* Once 
married, a man of right principles is always safe 
in them." 

Sir Geoffry was silent. Not very long ago, 
he had thought himself safe in his. With every 
word, it seemed that his shame and his sin came 
more glaringly home to him. 

" Then you mean to tell me that you do not 
like Rachel " 

'* That I have no love for her. If— if there 
be any one plea that I can put forth as a faint 
shadow of excuse for what has happened, it lies 
in my love for another. Faint it is, heaven 
knows : the excuse, not the love. Thai is deep 
enough : but I would rather not speak of it to 
you — my mother." 



46 Johnny Ludlow. 

*' And that you never will love Rachel ?" con- 
tinued Lady Chavasse, as though he had not 
interposed. 

" Never. It is impossible that I can ever 
love anyone but Mary Layne. I am grateful, 
as things have turned out, that I did not de- 
ceive Rachel by feigning what I coiild not feel. 
Neither does she love me. We were told to 
consider ourselves betrothed, and did so accord- 
ingly ; but, so far as love goes, it has not been 
so much as mentioned between us." 

" What else have you to say i^" asked Lady 
Chavasse. 

*' I might say a great deal, but it would all come 
round to the same point : to the one petition that 
I am beseeching you to grant — that you will 
sanction the marriage." 

Lady Chavasse's hands trembled visibly 
within their rich lace frills, as they lay passive 
on her soft dress of fine geranium cashmere. Her 
lips grew white with agitation. 

" Geoffry !'' 

** My darling mother." 

*' I have heard you. Will you hear me T^ 

'* You know I will." 

"More than one-and-twenty years ago, my 
husband died within these walls ; and I — I was 
not eighteen, Geoffry — felt utterly desojate. 
But, as the weeks went on, I said my child will 
be born, if God permit, and he will bring me 
comfort. You were born, Geoffry ; you did 



A Tale of Sin. 47 

bring me comfort : such comfort that I thought 

heaven had come again. You best know, my 

son, what our life has been ; how we have loved 

each other ; how pleasantly time has flown in 

uninterrupted happiness. I have devoted myself, 

my time, my energies, everything I possessed to 

you, my best treasure ; I have given up the 

world for you, Geoffry ; I had only you left in it. 

Is it fit that you should fling me from you now ; 

that you should blight my remaining days with 

misery ; that you should ignore me just as 

though I were already dead — and all for the 

sake of a stranger ?" 
*^ But " 

" I have not finished, Geoffry. For the sake 
of a stranger, whom a few months ago neither 
you nor I had ever seen ? If you think this — 
if you deem that you would be acting rightly, 
and can find in your heart to treat me so, why 
you must do it." 

*' But what I wish and propose is quite dif- 
ferent r he exclaimed in agony. ** Oh mother, 
surely you can understand me — and the dilemma 
I am placed in ?" 

" I understand all perfectly." 

" Ah yes !" 

*^ Geoffry, there is no middle course. You 
must choose between me and — her. Once she 
and 1 separate — it will be to-day — we can 
never meet again. I will not tolerate h^r 
memory; I will never submit to the degrada- 



48 Johnny Ludlow. 

tion of hearing her named in my presence. 
Our paths lie asunder, Geoffry, far as the two 
poles : hers lies one way, mine another. You 
must decide for yourself which of them you will 
follow. If it be mine, you shall be, as ever, 
my dear and honoured son, and I will never, 
never reproach you with your folly; never revert 
to it ; never think of it. If it be hers, why then — 
I will go away somewhere and hide myself, and 
leave the Grange free for you. And I — I dare 
say — shall not live long to be a thorn in your 
remembrance." 

She broke down with a flood of bitter sobs. 
Geoffry Chavasse had never seen his mother 
shed such. The hour was as trying to her as 
to him. She had loved him with a strangely 
selfish love, as it is in the nature of mothers to 
do ; and that she should have to bid him choose 
between her and another — and one so entirely 
beneath her as Lady Chavasse considered Mary 
Layne to be — was gall and wormwood. Never 
had she stooped to put the choice before him, 
even in words, but for her dread that he might 
be intending to take it. 

" It is a fitting end, Geoffry — that this worth- 
less girl should supplant me in your home and 
heart," she was resuming when her emotion 
allowed ; but Geoffry stood forward to face her, 
his agitation great as her own. 

**An instant, mother: that you may fully 
understand me. The duty I owe you, the 



A Tale of Sin. 49 

allegiance and the love, are paramount to all 
else on earth. In communing with myself last 
night, as I tell you I was, my heart and my 
reason alike showed me this. If I must choose 
between you and Mary Layne, there cannot be 
a question in my mind on which side duty lies. 
In all honour I am bound to make her my wife, 
and I should do it in all affection : but not in 
defiance of you ; not to thrust rudely aside the 
love and obligations of the past one-and-twenty 
years. You must choose for me. If you refuse 
your approval, I have no resource but to yield 
to your decision ; if you consent, I shall thank 
you and bless you for ever.*' 

A spasm of pain passed across the mouth of 
Lady Chavasse. She could not help saying 
something that arose prominently in her mind, 
though it interrupted the question. 

** And you can deem the apothecary Layne's 
daughter fit to mate with Sir Geoffry Chavasse T' 

" No, I do not. Under ordinary circum- 
stances, I should never have thought of such a 
thing. This unhappy business has a sting for 
me, mother, on many sides. Will you give me 
your decision ?" he added, after a pause. 

*' I have already given it, Geoffry — so far as I 
am concerned. You must choose between your 
mother, between all the hopes and the home- 
interests of one-and-twenty years, and this alien 
stranger." 

VOL. II. 4 



50 Johnny Ludlow. 

"Then I have no alternative." 

She turned her gaze steadily upon him. A 
sob rose in his throat as he took her hands, his 
voice was hoarse with emotion. 

" To part from her will be like parting with 
life, mother. I can never know happiness again 
in this world." 

But the decision was irrevocable. What 
further passed between Sir Geoffry and his 
mother in the remaining half-hour they spent 
together: how much of entreaty and anguish 
was spoken on his side, how much of passionate 
plaint and sorrow on hers, will never be known. 
But she was obdurate to the last letter : and Sir 
Geoffry's lot in life was fixed. Mary Layne was 
to be sacrificed : and, in one sense of the word, 
himself also : and there might be no appeal. 

Lady Chavasse exacted from him that he 
should quit the Grange at once without seeing 
Miss Layne, and not return to it until Mary had 
left it for ever. Anything he wished to say to 
her, he was to write. On Lady Chavasse's 
part, she voluntarily undertook to explain to 
Miss Layne their conversation faithfully, and 
its result; and to shield the young lady's 
good name from the censure of the world. 
She would keep her for some time longer at the 
Grange, be tender with her, honour her, drive 
out with her in the carriage so that they might 
be seen together, mollify her mother's anger, 
strive to persuade Mr. Luke Duffham that his 



A Tale of Sin. 5 1 

opinion had been mistaken, and, in any case, 
bind him down to secrecy : in short, she would 
make future matters as easy as might be for 
Mary, as tenaciously as though she were her 
own daughter. That she promised this at the 
sacrifice of pride and of much feeling, was indis- 
putable ; but she meant to keep her word. 

However miserable a night the others had 
passed, it will readily be imagined that Mary 
Layne had spent a worse. She made no pre- 
tence of eating breakfast : and when it was taken 
away sat at her work in the garden parlour, try- 
ing to do it ; but her cold fingers dropped the 
needle every minute, her aching brow felt as 
though it were bursting. Good-hearted Hester 
Picker was sorry to see her look so ill, and wished 
the nasty trying spring, hot one day, cold the 
next, would just settle itself down. 

Mary rose from her chair, and went upstairs 
to her own bedroom for a brief respite : in her 
state of mind it seemed impossible to stay long 
quiescent anywhere. This little incidental oc- 
currence frustrated one part of the understanding 
between Sir Geoffry and his mother — that he 
should quit the house without seeing Miss Layne. 
In descending, she chanced to cross the end of 
the corridor just as he came out of his mother s 
room after bidding her farewell. The carriage 
waited at the door, his coat was on his arm. 
Mary would have shrunk back again, but he 
bade her wait. 




52 Johnny Ludlow. 

" You must allow me to shake her hand,- and 
say just a word of adieu, mother ; I am not quite 
a brute," he whispered. And Lady Chavasse 
came out of her room, and tacitly sanctioned it 

But there was literally nothing more than a 
hand-shake. Miss Layne, standing still in all 
humility, turned a little white, for she guessed 
that he was being sent from his home through 
her. Sir Geoffry held her hand for a moment. 

** I am going away, Mary. My mother will 
explain to you. I have done my best, and 
failed. Before Heaven, I have striven to the 
uttermost, for your sake and for mine, to make 
reparation ; but it is not to be. I leave you to 
my mother ; she is your friend ; and you shall 
hear from me in a day or two. I am now going 
to see Mrs. Layne. Good-bye : God bless you 
always !" 

But, ere Sir Geoffry reached the hall. Lady 
Chavasse had run swiftly down, caught him, 
and was drawing him into a room. The fear 
had returned to her face. 

" I heard you say you were going to call on 
the Widow Layne. Geoffry, this must not be." 

** Not be r he repeated in surprise. " Mother, 
I am obeying you in all essential things ; but 
you cannot wish to reduce me to an utter craven. 
I owe an explanation to Mrs. Layne almost in 
the same degree that I owe it to you ; and I 
shall certainly not quit Church Dykely until I 
have given it." 



A Talc of Sin., 53 

" Oh well — if it must be," she conceded, afraid 
still. " You — you will not be drawn in to act 
against me, Geoffry?" 

" No power on earth could draw me to that. 
You have my first and best allegiance ; to which 
I bow before every other consideration, before 
every interest, whether of my own or of others. 
But for that, should I be acting as I am now ? 
Fare you well, mother." 

She heard the carriage-door closed ; she 
heard Sir Geoffry's order to the footman. Evea 
for that order, he was cautious to give a plau- 
sible excuse. 

" Stop at Mrs. Layne s. I have to leave a 
message from her ladyship." 

The wheels of the carriage crunched the 
gravel, bearing off Sir Geoffry in the storm of 
sleet — ^which had begun to fall — and Lady Cha- 
vasse passed up the stairs again. Taking the 
hand of Mary — who had stood above like a 
statue, never moving — she led her, gently enough^ 
into her dressing-room, and put her in a com- 
fortable chair by the fire ; and prepared for this 
second interview. 

Briefly, Lady Chavasse recounted what she 
had to say* Sir Geoffry had found himself 
obliged to choose between Miss Layne and her, 
his mother. Mary Layne sat with her hands 
before her face, and acknowledged that, if it 
came to such a choice, he had chosen rightly. 
And then, in forcible language, because it e^.\xv^ i 



54 Johnny Ludlow, 

from her heart, my lady drew a picture of the 
life-long happiness she and her son had enjoyed 
together, of her devotion and sacrifices for him, 
of his deep love and reverence for her : and she 
quietly asked Mary to put herself in imagination 
in her place, and say what her feelings would 
have been had a stranger come in to mar this. 
Had she any right to do this ? — Lady Chavasse 
asked her — would she be justified in destroying 
the ties of a life, in thrusting herself between 
mother and son ? — in invoking a curse, his 
mother's curse, on him ? My lady did not 
spare her : but she spoke in no angry tone, rather 
in a piteous and imploring one : and Mary, feel- 
ing as if matters were being put to her own 
better feeling, sobbed, and shook, and shrunk 
within herself, and could have knelt at Lady 
Chavasse's feet for pardon in her distress and 
humiliation: 

And that was the end of the wretched busi- 
ness — as Duffham phrases it in his diary — so 
far as the Grange and its people were concerned. 
Mary Layne stayed, perforce, two or three 
weeks longer at the house, and my lady made 
much of her : she took her out daily in her 
carriage ; she said to her friends, in the hearing 
of her servants and the sympathising Hester 
Picker, how vexatious it was that the relaxing, 
unseasonable weather had brought out the deli- 
cacy that was latent in Miss Lay ne's constitution, 
and that she feared she must let her go away 



A Tale of Sin. 55 

somewhere for a change. Mary submitted to 
all. She was in that self-abased frame of mind 
that had my lady desired her to immolate her- 
self on a blazing pyre, she would have gone to 
it meekly. My lady had interviews with Mrs. 
Layne, and with Duffham (who had got well 
then), and with his brother Luke. At the two 
or three weeks' end, Miss Elizabeth Layne came 
by appointment to the Grange, and she and 
Mary were drivien to the nearest station in my 
lady's own carriage on their way to the seaside : 
or to elsewhere, as it might be. And never an 
ill breath, in the Grange or out of it, transpired 
to tarnish the fair fame of Mary Layne. 

But my lady was not honest in one respect. 
The letter that arrived for Mary from Sir 
Geoffry a day or two after his departure, was 
never given to her. My lady knew she might 
trust her son implicitly ; he could but be straight- 
forward and keep his word in all things ; never- 
theless, she deemed the fire the safest place for 
the thick epistle of many sheets. On the other 
hand, Mary wrote to Sir Geoffry, saying that the 
alternative he had chosen was the only one 
possible to him. Nothing, no prayers of his, 
she said, would have induced her to put herself 
between him and his mother, even had he so far 
forgotten his duty as to urge it. It was a good 
and sensible letter, and none but a good and 
unselfish girl could have written it. 

So that ended the dream and the romatvc^. 



i 



56 Johnny Ludlow. 

And I hope the reader does not forget that it is 
Dufifham's diary that's telling all this, and not I. 
For though dreams and romance seem to be in 
Duffham's line, they are not in mine. 



PART THE SECOND. 

Not very long after the time that Mary Layne 
quitted Chavasse Grange — having closed all 
connection with it, never to be to it henceforth 
but as an utter stranger — her eldest sister, Susan, 
the wife of Captain Richard Layne, arrived in 
England from India with her children, four 
little ones ; the eldest seven years old, the 
youngest eighteen months. The children had 
been ailing, and she brought them over for a 
twelvemonth's change. Mrs. Layne was a good 
deal worn herself, for the only nurse shfe had 
with her, a coloured woman, was sea-sick during 
the voyage. Her sister Eleanor, who originally 
went out with her to Calcutta, had made an ex- 
cellent match ; having married Allan McAlpin, 
the younger partner in the staid old firm of 
McAlpin Brothers, merchants of high standing, 
and wealthy men. 

The first thing Mrs. Richard Layne did on 
arrival, was to establish herself in lodgings in 
Liverpool, the port she landed at (so as to rest a 
week or two from the fatigues of the voyage), and 



A Tale of Sin. 57 

send for her mother and sister Elizabeth. In 
answer came a letter from her mother, saying 
she was not equal to the journey and that Eliza- 
beth was from home. It contained Elizabeth's 
present address, and also one or two items of 
news that startled young Mrs. Layne well-nigh 
out of her senses. Leaving her children to their 
nurse's care, she started for the address given^ 
and found her two sisters, Elizabeth and Mary. 
The one living in a chronic state of outpouring 
sarcasm and reproach ; the other meekly taking 
all as not a tithe of her just due. 

After a day or two given to natural grief and 
lamentation, Mrs. Richard Layne took matters 
into her own capable hands. She considered that 
a more complete change would be good for Mary, 
and decided to convey her to the Continent. 
She wrote a long and confidential letter to her 
husband in India, of what she meant to do : and 
then she went back to Liverpool with Elizabeth, 
to leave the latter in charge of her own children 
and their coloured nurse, during her absence 
across the channel. Mrs. Layne then returned 
to Mary, and they started together for France. 

Shortly after this, old Mrs. Layne fell ill : and 
Elizabeth, when she found she must go home in 
consequence, left a responsible English nurse 
with the coloured woman and children. Not 
for several months afterwards did Mrs. Richard 
Layne and Mary return from abroad ; and at 
the end of the twelvemonth they all wewt Vi^'cJ^ m 



58 Johnny Ludlow. 

to India — Mrs. Layne, her children, the native 
nurse, and Mary. Mary accompanied them in 
the capacity of governess. 

After that, a couple of years went on. 



\From Miss Mary Layne s Journal, written in 
Calcutta, at the house of Captain LayneJ] 

June icth. — Cool of the evening. Susan came 
to the schoolroom in the midst of the geography 
lesson this morning, and told me an old friend 
of mine at home had called and I was to come 
into the verandah to see her. I never was more 
surprised. It was Jane Arkill ; my chief friend 
in our old school-days. She has married a Mr. 
Cale, a doctor, who has come out here to prac- 
tise. Mrs. Cale says she shall never get recon- 
ciled to the heat of India. While she sat telling 
us home news, she alternately wiped her pale 
face and stared at me, because I am so much 
altered. She thinks she should not have known 
me. It is not that my features have changed, 
she says, but that I have grown so much graver, 
and look so old. When people talk like this, I 
long to tell them that things have changed me ; 
that I have passed through a fiery trial of siu 
and suffering ; that my life is one long crucifixion 
of inward, silent repentance. When I first 
came out, two years ago, and people would say, 
" It must be the climate that is making Miss 
Layne look so ill," it seemed to me like the 



A Tale of Sin. 59 

worst hypocrisy to let them think it was the 
climate, and not to tell the truth. This feeling 
came back again to-day, when Jane Arkill — I 
shall often forget to call her " Cale " — said my 
eyes had grown to have a sad look in them ; 
and Susan answered that young ladies faded 
quickly in India; and that Mary z£;^///fjf apply her- 
self too closely to the children's studies in spite of 
remonstrance. Too closely I Why, if I devoted 
every hour of my life, night and day, to these 
dear children, I could never repay what their 
mother — or their father, either — has done for me. 
My mother is very well, Jane says, but lame 
and cannot get about much : she saw her only 
six weeks ago — for they came out by the over- 
land route. Only six weeks ago ! — to hear that 
one has seen my dear mother so recently as that, 
makes it seem almost as though / had seen her 
but yesterday. My darling mother ! — whom my 
conduct so grieved and outraged at the time, and 
who was so quick to forgive me and to do so 
much for me. What a message she has sent me ! 
'* Give my love to dear Mary, and say I hope 
she is happy with her sisters.'* Elizabeth, too, 
sent me her love. " I saw your little Arthur, 
Mrs. Layne," Jane Cale then said to my sister : 
^*he is a sweet little fellow; your mother and 
Elizabeth are so fond of him. They call him 
Baby Arthur." I felt my face growing whiter 
than death : but Susan, who was never I believe 
put out in her life, quietly sent me awa^ \q\X.Vv 'a^ 



6o Johnny Ludlow. 

message to the nurse — that she might bring the 
children. When I got back. Captain Layne had 
come in and had the baby on his shoulder : for 
nurse had made more haste than I. " None of 
your children here are so fair as the little one 
your wife left in England, Captain Layne," Jane 
Cale was saying, as she looked at them one by 
one. *'You mean little Arthur," returned the 
Captain in his ready kindness ; " I hear he is 
fair." ** Have you never seen him .'^^ "No: 
how should I have seen him ?" asked Captain 
Layne, laughing : " he was born over there, and 
my wife left him behind her as a legacy to her 
mother. It is rather a hazard, Mrs. Cale, as 
perhaps you know, to bring out very young in- 
fants to this country.*' Susan came to the res- 
cue : she took the baby and put him on his feet, 
that Mrs. Cale should see how well he walked 
for his twelvemonth's age. But it did not 
answer. No doubt Jane thought that the more 
she told them about Baby Arthur in England, 
the better pleased they would be. How much 
difference was there, she asked, between this 
child and little Arthur — eighteen months ? — and 
how much between Arthur and the one above 
him ? " Oh," said the Captain, " if it comes to 
months, you must ask my wife. Come here, 
sir," he called to Robert, who was tumbling 
over the little black bearer, ** tell this lady how 
o]A jyou are, for I am sure I can't." *' I'm over 
/our/' lisped Bobby. *' Ah, 1 see,'' sivdi ^^x\^ 



A Tale of Sin. 6 1 

Cale, '* Baby Arthur is just between them." 
'* Exactly so," said Captain Layne : " Susan, I 
think these children may go to their own quar- 
ters now.*' They went at once, for I have trained 
them to be obedient, and I escaped with them. 
It is the first time any human tongue has spoken 
to me of Baby Arthur. I think if Captain Layne 
had looked at me I should have died : but he is 
ever kind. Never, by so much as a word, or 
look, or tone, since the hour when I first set foot 
on these shores, his wife's humbled sister, his 
children's meek governess — and it is more than 
good of him to entrust their training to me ! — 
never has he betrayed that he as much as knew 
anything, still less thought of it. 

Oh, how events have been smoothed for me I — 
how much more than I deserve have I to be 
thankful for ! 

[^Letter fro7n Captain Layne^s Wife to her 
Mother at Church DykelyJ] 

Calcutta, September 2nd. 

My darling Mother, 

I am sitting down to answer your letter, 
which arrived by last mail : for I am sure you must 
wonder at my long silence and think it an age 
since I wrote. But the truth is, I have had a 
touch of my old complaint — intermittent fever — 
and it left me very w^eak and languid. I know 
you have an untiring correspondent in Eleanor. 
Perhaps that makes me a little negU^evvt vcs. 
viYiiing home, though I am aware \t ow^\t \\o\.* 



62 Johnny Ludlow. 



We were truly glad to welcome Mrs. Cale, be- 
cause she had so recently come from you. I 
cannot say that I have seen much of her as yet, 
for it was just after she got out that my illness 
began ; and when I grew better my husband sent 
me to the hills for a change. Mary went with 
me and the children. She is the greatest com- 
fort. Mother dear, in spite of what we know 
of, I do not think Mary has her equal for true 
worth in this world. You say that Mrs. Cale, 
in writing home to you, described Mary as 
being so altered ; so sad and subdued. Why, 
my dear mother, of course she is sad : how could 
it be otherwise ? I do not suppose, in her more 
recent life, she has ever felt other than the most 
intense sadness of mind ; no, not for one minute : 
and it is only to be expected that this must in 
time show itself in the countenance. I spoke 
to her about it one day ; it is a long, long while 
ago npw ; saying I did not like to see her re- 
tain so much sadness. " It cannot be helped," 
she answered; "sadness must always follow sin." 

And now I must tell you, even at the risk of 
being misunderstood — though I am sure you 
know me too well to fear I should seek to coun- 
tenance or excuse wrong-doing — that I think 
Mary takes an exaggerated view of the past. 
She seems to think it can never be wiped out, 
never be palliated. Of course in one sense, it 
never can : but I dofit see why she need continue 
to feel this intense humiliation, as if she ought 



A Tale of Sin. 63 

to have a cordon drawn round her gown to 
warn all good folks off its contact. Look again 
at that persistent fancy of hers, always to wear 
black; it is the writing about her gown puts me in 
mind of it. Black, black, black : thin silk when 
the heat will allow, oftener a dreary, rusty-black- 
looking kind of soft muslin that is called here 
"black jaconite" — but I really don't know 
whether that's the way to spell the thing. 
During the late intense heat, we have talked 
her into a black-and-white muslin : that is, white, 
with huge black spots upon it in the form of a 
melon. Only once did I speak to her about 
wearing white, as we do ; I have never ventured 
since. She turned away with a shiver, and said 
white was no longer for her. Mother dear, if 
anyone ever lived to work out on earth their 
repentance for sin, surely it is Mary. The more 
I see of her innate goodness, the less can I under- 
stand the past. With her upright principles 
and strict sense of conscientiousness — and you 
know, mother dear, that Mary always had these, 
even as a child — I am unable to imagine how it 

could have been that But I won't go into 

that. And it may be that the goodness, so 
remarkable, would not have come out con- 
spicuously but for the trial. 

Mrs. Cale gave us such a nice account of 
" Baby Arthur." She says he is very fair and 
pretty. She has talked to other people about 
him — and of course we cannot tell her not to 



64 Johnny Ludlow. 

talk. A brother officer of my husband's said to 
me yesterday : 

" I hear j^our little boy at home is charming, 
Mrs. Layne. When shall you have him out ?'* 

" Not yet," I answered, ** he was a very deli- 
cate baby, and I should not like to risk it." 

** Ah," said Major Grant, '* that is why you left 
him in England." 

" My mother takes great care of him," I went 
on ; *^ it would break her heart if I were to bring 
him away from her." 

You will wonder at my writing all this : but 
it is so new a thing to hear *' Baby Arthur " 
made a topic of discussion, and all through Mrs. 
Cale I Talking of children, Eleanor is, I think, 
getting somewhat over her long-continued dis- 
appointment. Four years she has been married, 
and has none. It is certainly a pity, when she 
and Allan McAlpin are so well off. Not a 
family in Calcutta lives in better style than they 
— people here talk of the house of McAlpin 
Brothers as we at home talk of Rothschild's and 
Baring's. I am sure they must be very rich, 
and poor Eleanor naturally thinks where is the 
use of the riches when there's no child to leave 
them to. Eleanor said to me the other day 
when she was here, " You might as well make 
over that child of yours to me, Susan," — mean- 
ing Baby Arthur ; '• he does you no good, and 
must be a trouble to mamma and Elizabeth." 
Of course I laughed it off; saying that you 



A Tale of Sin. 65 

and Elizabeth would not part with him for un- 
told gold. And I believe it is so, is it not, dear 
mother ? Do you remember when I first went 
to your house with the poor little infant, after 
his birth on the Continent, you took him out of 
my arms with a jerk and an averted face, as if 
you'd rather have pitched him on the floor, and 
Elizabeth turned away and groaned ? " Mother,'* 
I said, '' you may get to love the child in time, 
and then you'll be more ready to forgive and 
forget." And that has come to pass. 

Mary has always been against our not telling 
the truth to Eleanor ; she says, even yet, that 
she feels like a hypocrite before her ; but I feel 
sure it was best and wisest. Eleanor is as 
sensitive in her way as Mary is ; Eleanor holds 
a high position in the place ; she and her hus- 
band are both courted, she for herself, he for 
his riches, for his high commercial name, for his 
integrity ; and I know she would have felt the 
slur almost as keenly as Mary. It is true I do 
not like deliberate deceit ; but there was really 
no need to tell her — it would not have answered 
any good end. Until Mrs. Cale talked, Eleanor 
scarcely remembered that there was a Baby 
Arthur ; and now she seems quite jealous that 
he is mine and she cannot have him. I say to 
Eleanor that she must be contented with the 
good she has : her indulgent husband, her good 
position. We poor officers' wives cannot com- 
pete with her in grandeur. By the way, talking ^ 

VOL. II. ^ 



66 Johnny Ludlow. 

of officers, you will be glad to hear that my 
husband expects his majority. It will be a wel- 
come rise. For, with our little ones and our 
many expenses, it is rather difficult at times to 
make both ends meet. We shall come into money 
some time from the West Indies ; but until then 
every pound of additional pay is welcome. 

Mrs. Cale told us another item of news ; that 
is she recounted it amidst the rest, little think- 
ing what it was to us. That Sir G. C. is 
married, and living with his wife at the Grange 
with Lady C. You have been keeping the fact 
back, dear mother ; either through not choosing 
to mention their names, or out of consideration 
for Mary. But I can assure you she was 
thankfid to hear of it ; it has removed a little 
of the abiding sting from her life. You cannot 
imagine how unselfish she is : she looks upon 
herself as the sole cause of all that occurred. 
I mean that she says it was through her 
going to the Grange. Had she not gone, the 
peace of mother and son would never have been 
disturbed. / think Lady C. was selfish and 
wrong; that she ought to have allowed Sir G. 
to do as he wished. Mary says no ; that Lady 
C.'s comfort and her life-long feelings were 
above every other consideration. She admires 
Lady C. more than I do. However, she is truly 
glad to hear that the marriage took place. Events 
have fallen now into their original course, and she 
trusts that the bitter episode in which she took 



A Tale of Sin. 67 

part may be gradually forgotten at the Grange. 
The day we first heard of his marriage, I went 
hastily — and I fear you will say rudely — into 
Mary's room at night when she was preparing for 
rest, having omitted to tell her something I 
wished changed in Nelly's studies for the morning. 
She was on her knees, and rose up; the tears were 
literally streaming down her sweet face. " Oh, 
Mary, what is the matter ?" I asked in a shock of 
dismay. " I was but praying for God to bless 
them," she answered simply. Is she not a good, 
unselfish girl ? 

I could fill a page with her praises. What 
she has been to my children, during these two 
years she has had them in charge, I can never 
tell. She insisted upon being regarded and 
treated wholly as a governess ; but, as my 
husband says, no real governess could be half 
so painstaking, untiring, and conscientious. 
She has earned the respect of all Calcutta, and 
she shrinks from it as if it were something to 
be shunned, saying, *^ If people did but know !" 
Nelly, from being the only girl, and perhaps 
also because she was the eldest and her papa 
loved her so, was the most tiresome, spoiled 
little animal in the world ; and the boys were 
boisterous, and I am afraid frightfully impudent 
to the native servants : but since Mary took 
them in hand they are altogether different, fit 
to be loved. Richard often says he wishes he 
could recompense her. 

5—^ 



68 Johnny Ludlow. 

And now I must bring my letter to a close, 
or you will be tired. The children all send 
love to Grandmamma and Aunt Elizabeth : 
and (it is Miss Nelly calls out this) to little 
brother Arthur. Nelly is growing prettier every 
day : she is now going on for eleven. Young 
Richard promises to be as tall and fine a man 
as his father. I believe he is to be sent home 
next year to the school attached to King's 
College in London. Little Allan is more 
delicate than I like to see him ; Bobby, a fright- 
ful Turk ; baby, a dear little fellow. Master 
Allan's godfather, Eleanor's husband, gave him 
a handsome present on his last birthday — a 
railway train that would *^ go." He had sent for 
it from England : I am sure it never cost less 
than five pounds ; and the naughty child broke 
it before the day was out. I felt so vexed ; 
and downright ashamed to confess it to Eleanor. 
The Ayah said he broke it for the purpose, 
*' to see what it was made of;" and in spite of 
entreaties to the contrary, Richard was on the 
point of whipping him for the mischief, and 
Allan was roaring in anticipation, when Mary 
interposed, and begged to be let deal with him 
for it. What she said, or what she did, I don't 
know ; I'm sure there was no whipping ; but 
Master Allan was in a penitential and subdued 
mood for days after it, voluntarily renouncing 
some pudding that he is uncommonly fond of, 
because he had " not been good." Richard says 



A Tale of Sin. 69 

that he would rather trust his children to Mary, 
to be made< what they ought to be, than to any- 
one under heaven. Oh, it is grievous — that her 
life should have been blighted ! 

My best love to you and Elizabeth, dearest 
mother, in which Richard begs to join ; and 
believe me, your affectionate daughter, 

Susan Layne. 

P. S. — I have never before written openly on 
these private matters : we have been content 
tacitly to ignore them to each other, but some- 
how my pen has run on incautiously. Please, 
therefore, to burn this letter when you and 
Elizabeth shall have read it.* 



\_From Miss Mary Layne s Journal^ about two 

years yet later,'] 

October cjtk. — I quite tremble at the untoward 
turn things seem to be taking. To think that 
a noble gentleman should be casting his thoughts 
on me I And he is a gentleman, and a noble one 
also, in spite of that vain young adjutant, St. 
George's, slighting remark when Mr. McAlpin 
came in last night — ** Here's that confounded 
old warehouseman!" It was well the Major 
did not hear him. He has to take St. George 

* But old Mrs. Layne did not burn the letter : or else it 
would never have found its way into Duff ham's collection. 
She was content to put it off from day to day, just as people 
do put off things ; and it was never done. — J. L. 



7c Johnny Ludlow. 

to task on occasion, and he would have done it 
then with a will. 

Andrew McAlpin is not an ordinary man. 
Head of a wealthy house, whose integrity has 
never been questioned; himself of unsullied 
honour, of handsome presence, of middle age, 
for surely, in his three-and-fortieth year, he may 
be called it — owner of all these solid advantages, 
he has actually turned his attentions upon me. 
Me ! Oh, if he did but know ! — if he could but 
see the humiliation it brings to this already too 
humiliated heart. 

Has a glamour been cast over his sight — as 
they say in his own land ? Can he not see how 
I shrink from people when they notice me by 
chance more than common ? Does he not see 
how constantly I have tried to shrink from him ? 
If I thought that this had been brought about 
by any want of precaution on my part, I should 
be doubly miserable. When I was assistant- 
teacher at school in England, the French 
governess, poor old Madame de Visme, confided 
to me something that she was in the habit of 
doing ; it was nothing wrong in itself, but totally 
opposed to the arbitrary rules laid down, and, 
if discovered, might have caused her to be 
abruptly dismissed. " But suppose it were 
found out, madame ?" I said. " Ah non, mon 
enfant," she answered ; " je prends mes precau- 
tions." Since then I have often thought of the 
words : and I say to myself, now as I write, 



A Tale of Sin, ^i 

have I taken precautions — proper ones ? I 
can hardly tell. For one thing, I was at first, 
and for some time, so totally unprepared : it 
would no more have entered my mind to 
suppose Mr. McAlpin would think of paying 
attention to me, than that the empty-headed 
Lieutenant St. George — who boasts that his 
family is better than anybody's in India, and 
intends to wed accordingly if he weds at ali — 
would pay it. 

When it first began — and that is so long ago 
that I can scarcely remember, nearly a year, 
though — Mr. McAlpin would talk to me about 
the children. I felt proud to answer him, dear 
little things ; and I knew he liked them, and 
Allan is his brother's godchild, and Robert is 
Eleanors. I am afraid that is where I was 
wrong : when he came talking, evening after 
evening, I should have been on my guard, and 
begged Susan to excuse me from appearing 
as often as she would. The great evil lies in 
my having consented to appear at all in com- 
pany. For two years after I came out — oh, 
more than that ; it must have been nearly three 
— I resolutely refused to join them when they 
were not alone. It was Major Layne's fault 
that the rule was broken through. One day, 
when invitations were out for an evening party, 
Susan came to me and said that the Major par- 
ticularly requested I would appear at it. ** The 
fact is, Mary," she whispered, *' there has been 



72 Johnny Lttdlow. 

some talk at the mess : you are very much 
admired— your face, I mean — and some of them 
began wondering whether there was any reason 
for your never appearing in society ; and 
whether you could really be my sister. Richard 
was not present — that goes without telling — the 
Colonel repeated it to him afterwards in a 
joking way. But what the Major says is 
this, Mary — thiat he knows India and gossiping 
tongues better than you do, and he desires for all 
our sakes, for yours of course especially, that you 
will now and then show yourself with us. You 
are to begin next Tuesday evening. Richard 
hegs you will. And I have been getting you a 
black net dress, with a little white lace for the 
body — you cannot say that's too fine." The 
words **for all our sakes" decided it; and I 
said I would certainly obey Major Layne. 
What else could I do } 

That was the beginning of it. Though I go 
out scarcely ever with the Major and Susan, 
declining invitations on the plea of my duties as 
governess, it has certainly grown into a habit 
with me to spend my evenings with them when 
they are at home. 

But I never supposed anything like this 
would come of it. It has always seemed to me 
as if the world could see me a little as I see 
myself, and not think of me as one eligible to 
be chosen. As soon as I suspected that Mr. 
McAlpin came here for me, I strove to show 



A Tale of Sin. 73 

him as plainly as I might that he was making a 
mistake. And now this proves, as it seems to 
me, how wrong it was not to tell my sad story 
to Eleanor, but to let her think of me as one 
worthy yet. Susan knows how much against 
its suppression I was ; but she overruled me, 
and she said Richard thought with her. 
Eleanor would have whispered it to her hus- 
band, and he might have whispered to his 
brother Andrew, and this new perplexity have 
been spared. It is not for my own sake I am 
so sorry, but for his: crosses and vexations are 
only my due, and I try to take them patiently ; 
but I grow hot with shame every time I think 
how he is deceived. Oh, if he would but speak 
out, and end it ! that I might thank him and 
tell him it is impossible : I would like to say 
unfit. Susan might give him a hint ; but when 
I urge her to do so, she laughs at me and asks 
How can she, until he has spoken ? 

October 25//J. — It has come at last. Mr. 
McAlpin, one of the best men amidst the 
honourable men of the world, has asked me to 
become his wife. While I was trying to answer 
him, I burst into tears. We were quite alone. 
" Why do you weep?" he asked, and I answered 
that I thought it was because of my gratitude 
to him for his kindness, and because I was so 
unworthy of it. It was perhaps a hazardous 
thing to say — but I was altogether confused. I 
must have explained myself badly, for he could 



74 Johnny Ludlow. 

not or would not understand my refusal ; he said 
he certainly should decline to take it : I must con- 
sider it well — for a week — or a month — as long 
as I liked, provided I said " Yes " at last. When 
the crying fit was over, I felt all myself again ; 
and I told him, just as quietly and calmly as I 
could speak, that I should never marry ; never. 
He asked why^ and as I was hesitating what 
reason to give, and praying to be helped to 
speak right in the emergency, we were inter- 
rupted. 

Oh, if I could but tell him the naked truth, 
as I here write it ! That the only one living 
man it would be possible for me to marry is 
separated from me wider than seas can separate. 
The barrier was flung up between us years ago, 
never to be overstepped by either of us : while 
at the same time it shut me out from my kind. 
For this reason I can never marry, and never 
shall marry, so long as the world, for me, 
endures. 

November i(^th. — This is becoming painful. 
Mr. McAlpin will not give me up. He is all 
consideration and respect, he is not obtrusive, 
but yet — he will not give me up. There can exist 
no good reason why I should not have him, he 
says ; and he is willing to wait for months and 
years. Eleanor comes in with her remon- 
strances : ** Whatever possesses you, Mary ? 
You must be out of your mind, child, to refuse 
Andrew McAlpin. For goodness' sake, get a 



A Tale of Sin. 75 

little common sense into your poor crotchety 
head/* Allan McAlpin, in his half-earnest, 
half-joking way, says to me, ** Miss Layne, / 
make a perfect husband ; ask Eleanor if I don't ; 
and I know Andrew will make a better." It is 
so difficult for me to parry these attacks. The 
children even have taken it up : and Master 
Richard to-day in the school-room called me 
Mrs. McAlpin. Susan has tried to shield me 
throughout. The Major says not a word one 
way or the other. 

A curious idea has come across me once or 
twice lately — that it might be almost better to 
give Mr. McAlpin a hint of the truth. Of 
course it is but an idea ; one that can never be 
carried out ; but I know that he would be true 
as steel. I cannot bear for him to think me 
ungrateful : and he must consider me both un- 
grateful and capricious. I respect him and like 
him very very much, and he sees this : if I were at 
liberty as others are, I would gladly marry him: 
the great puzzle is, how to make him understand 
that It is not possible. I suppose the conscious- 
ness of my secret, which never leaves me, 
renders it more difficult for me to be decisive 
than it would be if I possessed none. Not the 
least painful part of it all is, that he brings me 
handsome presents, and will not take them back 
again. He is nearly old enough to be my father, 
he says, and so I must consider them as given 



76 Johnny Ludlow. 

to me in that light. How shall I stop it ? — how 
convince him ? 

November 2gtk. — Well, I have done it. Last 
night there was a grand dinner at the mess ; 
some strangers were to join it on invitation ; 
Susan went to spend a quiet hour with the 
Colonel's wife, and Mr. McAlpin came in, and 
found me alone. What possessed me I cannot 
tell : but I went all over in a tremble. He 
asked what was the matter, and 1 took courage 
to say that I always now felt distressed to see 
him come in, knowing he came for my sake, and 
that I could not respond to him as he wished. 
We had never had so serious a conversation as 
the one that ensued. He begged me to at least 
tell him what the barrier was, and where it lay : 
I thought he almost hinted that it was due to 
him. ** There is some particular barrier, I feel 
sure," he said, " although Eleanor tells me there 
is none." And then I took some more courage, 
inwardly hoping to be helped to speak for the 
best, and answered Yes, there was a barrier; 
one that could never be surmounted ; and that 
I had tried to make him see this all along. I 
told him how truly I esteemed him ; how little 
I felt in my own eyes at being so undeserving 
of the good opinion of a good man ; I said I 
should thank him for it in my heart for ever. 
Did the barrier lie in my loving another? he 
asked, and I hesitated there. I had loved 
another, I said : it was before I came out, and 



A Tale of Sin. "jy 

the circumstances attending it were very painful ; 
indeed it was a painful story altogether. It had 
blighted my life ; it had isolated me from the 
world ; it entirely prevented me from ever think- 
ing of another. I do believe he gathered from 
my agitation something of the truth, for he was 
so kind and gentle. Eleanor knew nothing of 
it, I said ; Major and Mrs. Layne had thought 
there was no need to tell her, and, of course, he 
would understand that I was speaking to him 
in confidence. Yes, he answered, in confidence 
that I should not find misplaced. I felt happier 
and more at ease with him than I had ever done, 
for now I knew that misapprehension was over ; 
and we talked together on other matters peace- 
fully, until Major Layne entered and brought a 
shock with him. 

A shock for me. One of the guests at the 
mess came with him : a naval officer in his 
uniform : a big man of fifty or sixty years, with 
a stern countenance and a cloud of untidy white 
hair, ^* Where's Susan ?" cried the Major : "out? 
Come here, then, Mary : you must be hostess." 
And before I knew what or who it was, I had 
been introduced to Admiral Chavasse. My 
head was in a whirl, my eyes were swimming : I 
had not heard the name spoken openly for 
years. Major Layne little thought he was 
related to G. C. : Mr. McAlpin had no idea that 
this fine naval officer, Parker Chavasse, could be 
cousin to one of whom I had been speaking A 



78 Johifiy Ludlow. 

covertly, but had not named. The Admiral is 
on cruise, has touched at Calcutta, and his 
vessel is lying in Diamond Harbour, 

November ^oth. — Oh dear ! oh dear ! That 
I should be the recipient of so much goodness, 
and not be able to appreciate it ! 

A message came to the school-room this 
morning; Miss Layne was wanted downstairs. 
It was Susan who sent, but I found Mr. 
McAlpin alone. He had been holding a con- 
fidential interview with Susan : and Susan, 
hearing how much I had said to him last night, 
confided to him all. Oh, and he was wiUing 
to take me still ; to take me as I am 1 I fell 
down at his feet sobbing when I told him that 
it could not be. 

[Private Note from Major Layn^s Wife to her 
Mother at Chttrch Dykely.~\ 

Just half-a-dozen lines, my dear mother, for 
your eye alone : I enclose them in my ordinary 
letter, meant for the world in general, as well as* 
you. Mr. McAlpin knows all ; but he was 
still anxious to make her his wife. He thinks 
her the best and truest girl, excellent among 
women. Praise from him is praise. It was, I 
am certain, a most affecting interview ; but they 
were alone. Mary's refusal — an absolute one 
— was dictated by two motives. The one is, 
that the old feelings hold still so much sway in 
her heart (and, she says, always will) as to 



A Tale of Sin. 79 

render the idea of a union with anyone else 
absolutely distasteful. The other motive was 
consideration for Andrew McAlpin. " I put it 
to you what it would be," she said to him, " if 
at any time after our marriage, whether follow- 
ing closely upon it, or in years to come, this 
story of mine should transpire ? I should die 
with shame, with grief for your sake : and there 
could be iio remedy. No, no ; never will I sub- 
ject you, or anyone else, to that frightful chance." 

And, mother, she is right. In spite of Mr. 
McAlpin's present disappointment, I know he 
thinks her so. It has but increased his admira- 
tion for her. He said to me, " Henceforth I 
shall look upon her as a dear younger sister, 
and give her still my heart's best love and 
reverence." 

And this is the private history of the affair : 
I thought I ought to disclose it to you. Richard, 
while thinking she has done right, says it is 
altogether an awful pity (he means inclusive of 
the past), for she's a trump of a girl. And so 
she is. Ever yours, dear mother, 

Susan Layne. 



8o Johnny Ludlow. 



PART THE THIRD, 

It was a lovely place, that homestead of 
Chavasse Grange, as seen in the freshness 
of the summer's morning : and my Lady Cha- 
vasse, looking from her window as she dressed, 
might be thinking so. The green lawn, its dew- 
drops sparkling in the sun, was dotted with beds 
of many-coloured flowers ; the thrush and black- 
bird were singing in the surrounding trees ; the 
far-off landscape, stretched around in the dis- 
tance, was beautiful for the eye to rest upon. 

Nearly hidden by great clusters of roses, some 
of which he was plucking, and talking at the 
same time to the head-gardener who stood by, 
was a well-looking gentleman of some five-and- 
twenty years. His light morning-coat was 
flung back from the snowy white waistcoat, across 
which a gold chain passed, its seal drooping ; a 
blue necktie, just as blue as his blue eyes, wascare- 
lessly tied round his neck. He might have been 
known for a Chavasse by those self-same eyes, 
for they had been his father s — Sir Peter — before 
him. 

" About those geraniums that you have put 
out, Markham," he was saying. ** How can^e 
you to do it ? Lady Chavasse is very angry : 
she wanted them kept in the pots." 

"Well, Sir Geoffry, I only obeyed orders," 



A Tale of Sin. 8 1 

replied the gardener — who was new to the place. 
*' Lady Rachel told me to do it." 

** Lady Rachel did ? Oh, very well. Lady 
Chavasse did not understand that, I suppose." 

Up went Lady Chavasse s window at this 
juncture. *' Geoffry." 

Sir Geoffry stepped out from amid the roses, 
and smiled as he answered her. 

"Ask Markham about the geraniums, Geoffry 
— how he could dare to do such a thing without 
orders." 

" Mother, Rachel bade him do it. Of course 
she did not know that you wished it not done." 

" Oh," curtly replied Lady Chavasse. And 
she shut down the window again. 

By this it will be seen that the wishes of the 
two ladies at Chavasse Grange sometimes 
clashed. Lady Rachel, though perhaps regarded 
as second in authority, was fond of having her 
own way, and took it when she could. Lady 
Chavasse made a show of deferring to her 
generally ; but she had reigned queen so long 
that she found it irksome, not to say humiliating, 
to yield the smallest point to her son s wife. 

They were sitting down to breakfast when 
Sir Geoffry went in, in the room that had once 
been the garden-parlour. It had been re-embel- 
lished since those days, and made the breakfast- 
room. Lady Chavasse was but in her forty- 
fourth year ; a young woman, so to say, beau- 
tiful still, and excellently-well preserved, SKe. 

VOL. II. 6 



82 Johnny Ludlow, 

wore a handsome dress of green muslin, with a 
dainty little cap of lace on her rich brown hair. 
Sir Geofifry s wife was in white ; she looked just 
the same as when she was Rachel Derreston ; 
her perfect features pale, and cold, and faultless. 

Geoffry Chavasse laid a rose by the side of each 
as he sat down. He was the only one changed; 
changed since the light-hearted days before that 
episode of sin and care came to the Grange. It 
had soon passed away again ; but somehow it 
had left its mark on him. His face seemed to 
have acquired a weary kind of look ; and the 
fair bright hair was getting somewhat thin upon 
the temples. Sir Geoffry was in Parliament ; 
but he had now paired off for the short remain- 
der of the session. Sometimes they were all in 
London : sometimes Sir Geoffry would be there 
alone ; or only with his wife : the Grange was 
their chief and usual home. 

They began talking of their plans for the day. 
Sir Geoffry had to ride over some portion of the 
estate; Lady Rachel thought she must write 
some letters ; Lady Chavasse, who said her head 
ached, intended to go out in her new carriage. 

It was ordered to the door in the course of 
the morning : this pretty toy carriage, which had 
been a recent present from Geofifry to his mother. 
Low and light in build, it was something like a 
basket chaise, but much more elegant, and the 
boy-groom, in his natty postilion s dress, sat the 
horse. Lady Chavasse, a light shawl thrown 



A Tale of Sin. 83 

over her green muslin, and a white bonnet on, 
stood admiring the turn-out, her maid, who had 
come out with the parasol, by her side. 

'* Wilkins," said her ladyship, suddenly, " run 
and ask Lady Rachel whether she is sure she 
would not like to go with me ?" 

The woman went, and returned. ** Lady 
Rachel's love and thanks, my lady, but she would 
prefer to get her letters done." 

So Lady Chavasse went alone, taking the 
road to Church Dykely. The hedges were 
blooming with wild roses and woodbine, the 
sweet scent of the hay filled the air, the sky 
was blue and cloudless. But the headache was 
making itself sensibly felt ; and my lady, remem- 
bering that she had often had these headaches 
lately, began wondering whether Duffham the 
surgeon could give her anything to cure them. 

" Giles," she cried, leaning forward. And the 
boy-groom turned and touched his cap. 

" My lady ?" 

^* To Mr. Duffham^s." 

So in the middle of the village, at Mr. Duff- 
ham's door, Giles pulled up. The surgeon, 
seeing who it was, came out, and handed his 
visitor indoors. 

Lady Chavasse had not enjoyed a gossip with 
Mr. Duffham since before her last absence from 
home. She rather liked one in her coldly con- 
descending way. And she stayed with him in 
the surgery while he made up some medicine 

6— a 



84 Johnny Ludlow. 

for her, and told her all the village news. Then 
she began talking about her daughter-in-law. 

" Lady Rachel seems well, but there is a little 
fractiousness of temper perceptible now and 
then ; and I fancy that, with some people, it 
denotes a state of not perfect health. There 
are no children, Mr. Duffham, you see. There 
have been no signs of any." 

" Time enough for that, my lady." 

'* Well — they have been married for — let me 
•recollect — nearly fourteen months. I do hope 
there will be children ! I am anxious that there 
should be." 

The surgeon happened to meet her eyes as 
she spoke, and read the anxiety seated in them. 

" You see — if there were none, and anything 
happened to Sir Geoffry, it would be the case 
of the old days — my case over again. Had my 
child proved to be a girl, the Grange would 
have gone from us. You do not remember 
that ; you were not here ; but your predecessor, 
Mr. Layne, knew all about it." 

Perhaps it was the first time for some three or 
more years past that Lady Chavasse had men- 
tioned voluntarily the name of Layne to the 
surgeon. It might have been a slip of the 
tongue now. 

" But there's nothing likely to happen to Sir 
Geoffry, Lady Chavasse/' observed Duffham, 
after an imperceptible pause. *^ He is young 
and healthy." 



A Tale of Sin. 85 

• 

'* I know all that Only it would be pleasant 
to feel we were on the safe side — that there was 
a son to succeed. If any things did happen to 
him, and he left no son, trfe Grange would pass 
away from us. I cannot help looking to contin- 
gencies: it has been my way to do so all my life." 

" Well, Lady Chavasse, I sincerely hope the 
son will come. Sir Geoffry is anxious on the 
point, I dare say." 

" He makes no sign of being. Sir Geoffry 
seems to me to have grown a little indifferent in 
manner of late, as to general interests. Yesterday 
afternoon we were talking about making some 
improvements at the Grange, he and I ; Lady 
Rachel was indoors at the piano. I remarked 
that it would cost a good deal of money, and 
the question was, whether it would be worth 
while to do it. ' My successor would think it 
so, no doubt,' cried Sir Geoffry. ' 1 hope that 
will never be Parker Chavasse; I should not 
like him to reign here,* I said hastily. ^ If it 
is, mother, I shall not be alive to witness it,' 
was his unemotional answer.'' 

*^Lady Chavasse, considering the difference 
between the admiral's age and Sir Geoffry 's, I 
should say there are thirty chances against it," 
was Duffham's reply, as he began to roll up the 
bottle of mixture in white paper. 

While he was doing this, a clapping of tiny 
hands attracted Lady Chavasse's attention to 
the window, which stood open. A little boy 



86 Johnny Ludlow. 

had run out of Mrs. Layne's door opposite, and 
stood on the pavement in admiration of the 
carriage, which the boy-groom was driving slowly 
about. It was a pretty child of some three years 
old, or thereabouts, in a brown hoUand pinafore 
strapped round the waist, his little arms and legs 
and neck bare, and his light hair curling. 

" Oh g andma, look ! G'andma, come and 
look !" he cried — and the words were wafted dis- 
tinctly to Lady Chavasse. 

*' Who is that child, Mr. Duffham ? I have 
seen him sometimes before. Stay, though, I 
remember — I think I have heard. He belongs 
to that daughter of Mr. Layne's who married 
the soldier of the same name. A lieutenant, or 
some grade of that kind, was he not ?" 

" Lieutenant Layne then ; Captain Layne 
now," carelessly replied Mr. Duffham. ** Hopes 
to get his majority in time, no doubt.'' 

"Oh indeed. I sometimes wonder how people 
devoid of family connections manage to obtain 
rapid promotion. The grandmother takes care 
of the child, I suppose. Quite a charge for her." 

Mr. Duffham, standing now byherside, glanced 
at Lady Chavasse. Her countenance was open, 
unembarrassed : there was no sign of ulterior 
thought upon it. Evidently a certain event of the 
past was not just then in her remembrance. 

" How is the old lady ?" she asked. 

** Middling. She breaks fast. I doubt, though, 
if one of her daughters will not go before her.'* 



A Tale of Sin, 8 7 

Lady Chavasse turned quickly at the words. 

" I speak of the one who is with her — Miss 
Elizabeth Layne/' continued Mr. Duffham, 
busily rolling up the bottle. *^ Her health is 
failing : I think seriously; though she may linger 
for some time yet." 

There was a pause. Lady Chavasse looked 
hard at the white knobs on the drug-drawers. 
But that she began to speak, old Duffham might 
have thought she was counting how many there 
were of them. 

" The other one — Miss Mary Layne — is she 
still in that situation in India ? A governess, 
or something of the kind, we heard she went 
out to be." 

'* Governess to Captain Layne's children. Oh 
yes, she's there. And likely to be, the people 
over the way seem to say. Captain and Mrs. 
Layne consider that they have a treasure in her." 

** Oh, I make no doubt she would do her duty. 
Thank you : never mind sealing it. I will be 
sure to attend to your directions, Mr. Duffham." 

She swept out to the carriage, which had now 
drawn up, and stepped over the low step into it. 
The surgeon put the bottle by her side, and 
saluted her as she drove away. Across the 
road trotted the little fellow in the pinafore. 

*' Did 00 see dat booful tarriage, Mis er Duff- 
ham ? Td like to 'ide in it." 

^* You would, would you, Master Arthur," re- 
turned the surgeon, hoisting the child for a 



88 Johnny Ludlow. 

moment on his shoulder, and then setting him 
on his feet again, as Miss Layne appeared at the 
door. " Be off back : there's Aunt Elizabeth 
looking angry. It's against the law, you know, 
sir, to run out beyond the house." 

And the little lad ran over at once obediently. 

Nearly three years back — not quite so much 
by two or three months — Church Dykely was 
gratified by the intelligence that Captain Layne's 
wife — then sojourning in Europe — was coming 
on a short visit to her mother with her three 
or four weeks' old baby. Church Dykely wel- 
comed the news, for it was a sort of break to the 
monotonous, jog-trot village life, and warmly 
received Mrs. Richard Layne and the child on 
their arrival. The infant was born in France, 
where Mrs. Richard Layne had been staying 
with one of her sisters — Mary — and whence 
she had now come direct to her mother's ; 
Mary having gone on to Liverpool to join Mrs. 
Richard Layne's other children. The baby — 
made much of by the neighbours — was to re- 
main with old Mrs. Layne : Mrs. Richard 
Layne did not deem it well to take so young a 
child to India, as he seemed rather delicate. 
Church Dykely said how generous it was of her 
to sacrifice her motherly- feelings for the baby's 
good — but the Laynes had always been unsel- 
fish. She departed, leaving the child. And 
Baby Arthur, as all the place called him, lived 
and thrived, and was now grown as fine a little 



A Tale of Sin. 89 

fellow for his age as might be, with a generous 
spirit and open heart. My Lady Chavasse 
(having temporarily forgotten it when speaking 
with Mr. Duffham) had heard all about the 
child's parentage just as the village had — that 
he was the son of Captain Richard Layne and 
his wife Susan. Chavasse Grange generally 
understood the same, including Sir Geofifry. 
There was no intercourse whatever between the 
Layne family and the Grange ; there had not 
been any since Miss Mary Layne quitted it. 
My Lady Chavasse was in the habit of turning 
away her eyes when she passed Mrs. Layne's 
house : and in good truth, though perhaps her 
conscience reminded her of it at these moments, 
she had three parts forgotten the unpleasant 
episode of the past. 

And the little boy grew and thrived : and 
became as much a feature in Church Dykely as 
other features were — say the bridge over the 
mill-stream, or the butcher's wife — and was no 
more thought of, in the matter of speculation, 
than they were. 

Miss Elizabeth Layne caught hold of the 
young truant's hand with a jerk and a reprimand, 
telling him he'd be run over some day. She 
had occasion to tell it him rather often, for he 
was of a fearless nature. Mr. Duffham nodded 
across the road to Miss Elizabeth. 

"Are you better to-day ?" he called out. Peo- 
ple don't stand on ceremony in these rural places. 



go Joh7iny Ludlow. 

" Not much, thank you," came the answer. 

For Miss Elizabeth Layne had been anything 
but strong lately ; her symptoms looking very 
like those that herald in cpnsumption. 



The time rolled on, bringing its changes. You 
have already seen it rolling on in Calcutta, for 
in this, the third part, we have had to go back a 
year or two. 

Elizabeth Layne died. Mrs. Layne grew 
very feeble, and it was thought and said by 
everybody that one of her daughters ought to be 
residing with her. There was only one left unmar- 
ried — Mary. Mary received news in India of this 
state of things at home, together with a sum- 
mons from her mother. Not at all a peremptory 
summons. Mrs. Layne wrote a few shaky lines, 
praying her to come *' if she'd not mind return- 
ing to the place :" if she did mind it, why she, 
the mother, must die alone as she best could. 
There was a short struggle in Mary Layne's 
heart ; a quick, sharp battle, and she gave in. 
Her duty to her mother lay before aught else of 
obligation in God's sight ; and she would yield 
to it. As soon as preparations for her voyage 
could be made, she embarked for England. 

It was autumn when she got home, and 
Church Dykely received her gladly. Mary 
Layne had always been a favourite in the place 



A Tale of Situ 9 r 

from the time her father, the good-hearted, hard- 
working surgeon, had fondly shown her, his 
youngest and fairest child, to the public, a baby 
of a few days old. But Church Dykely found 
her greatly changed. They remembered her 
as a blooming girl ; she came back to them a 
grave woman, looking older than her years, and 
with a pale sweet countenance that seemed 
never to have a smile on it. She was but six- 
and-twenty yet. 

Miss Layne took up her post at once by the 
side of her ailing mother. What with attending 
her and attending to Baby Arthur — whom she 
took into training at once just as she had taken 
the children in India — she found her time fully 
occupied. The boy, when she returned, was 
turned five. She went out very rarely ; never 
— except to church, or at dusk — when the 
family were at the Grange, for she seemed to 
have a dread of meeting them. Church Dykely 
wondered that Miss Layne did not call at the 
Grange, considering that she had been humble 
companion there before she went out, or that 
my lady did not come to see her ; but supposed 
the lapse of time had caused the acquaintance- 
ship to fall through. 

Mary had brought good news from India. 
Her sister Eleanor, Mrs. Allan McAlpin, had a 
little girl, to the great delight of all concerned. 
Just when they had given it up as a bad job, 
and decided that it was of no good to hope any 



92 Johnny Ludlow. 

longer, the capricious infant arrived. Major 
Layne told his wife confidentially that Allan 
McAlpin was prouder of that baby than any dog 
with two tails. 

And henceforth this was to be Mary Layne's 
home, and this her occupation — the caring for 
her mother, so long as the old lady should be 
spared, and the gentle leading to good of the 
child, Arthur. Mrs. Layne, lapsing into her 
dotage, would sit in her favourite place, the 
parlour window, open when the weather allowed 
it, watching people as they passed. Mary's 
smooth and bright brown hair might be seen in 
the background, her head drooping over the 
book she was reading to Mrs. Layne, or over 
her work when the old lady got tired of listening, 
or over Master Arthur*s lessons at the table. 
Not only lessons to fit him for this world did 
Mary teach him ; but such as would stand him 
in good aid when striving onwards for the next. 
Twice a day, morning and evening, would she 
take the child alone, and talk to him of 
Heaven, and things pertaining to it. Aunt 
Elizabeth's lessons had been mostly on the 
score of behaviour : the other kind of instruc- 
tion had been all routine at the best. Mary 
remedied this, and she had an apt little scholar. 
Seated on her knee, his bright blue eyes turned 
up to her face, the child would listen and talk, 
and say he would be a good boy always, always. 
The tears wet his eyelashes at her Bible stories : 



A Tale of Sin. 93 

he would put his little face down on her bosom, 
and whisper out a sobbing wish that Jesus would 
love him as He had loved the little children on 
earth. There is no safeguard like this seed 
sown in childhood : if withheld, nothing can 
replace it in after-life. 

They grew the best and greatest friends^ 
these two. Whether Mary loved him, or not^ 
she did not say ; she was ever patient and 
thoughtful with him, with a kind of grave 
tenderness. But the child grew to love her 
more than he had ever loved anyone in his 
young life. One day, when he did something 
wrong and saw how it grieved her, his repentant 
sobs nearly choked him. It was very certain 
that Mary had found the way to his heart, and 
might mould him for good or for ill. 

The child was a chatterbox. Aunt Elizabeth 
used to say he ought to have the tip cut off his 
tongue. He seemed never tired of asking about 
papa and mamma in India, and Allan and 
Bobby and the rest, and the elephants and 
camels — and Dick the eldest, who was in Lon- 
don, at the school attached to King's College. 

" When will they come over to see us, Aunt 
Mary ?'' he questioned one day, when he was 
on Mary's knee. 

" If grandmamma's pretty well we will have 
Dick down at Christmas." 

" Is Dick to be a soldier like papa T 

" I think so." 



i 



•94 Johnny Ludlow. 

" I shall be a soldier too." 

There was an involuntary tightening of her 
hands round him — as if she would guard him 
from that 

" I hope not, Arthur. One soldier in a 
family's enough ; and that is to be Richard." 

" Is papa a very big big brave man with a 
flashing sword ?" 

" Major Layne is tall and very brave. He 
wears his sword sometimes." 

"Oh, Aunt Mary, I should like to be a 
soldier and have a sword I When I can write 
well enough I'll write a letter to papa to ask 
him. I'd like to ride on the elephants." 

" They are not as good to ride as horses." 

" Is mamma as pretty as you V demanded 
Master Arthur after a pause. 

" Prettier. I am pale and " — sad, she was 
going to say, but put another word — ** quiet." 

" When you go back to India, Aunt Mary, 
shall you take me ? I should like to sail in the 
great ship." 

'* Arthur dear, I do not think I shall go back." 

And so Miss Mary Layne — she was Miss 
Layne now — stayed on. Church Dykely would 
see a slender, grave young lady, dressed 
generally in black silk, whose sweet face 
seemed to have too careworn an expression 
for her years. But if her countenance was 
worn and weary, her heart was not. That 
seemed full of love and charity for all ; of 



A Tale of Sin. 95 

gentle compassion for any wrong-doer, of sym- 
pathy for the sick and suffering. She got to be 
revered, and valued, and respected as few had 
ever been in Church Dykely : certainly as none 
had, so young as she was. Baby Arthur, clack- 
ing his whip as he went through the street on 
his walks by the nurse-girl Betsey's side, his 
chattering tongue never still ; now running into 
the blacksmith's shed to watch the sparks ; now- 
perching himself on the top of the village stocks ; 
and now frightening Betsey out of her senses by 
attempting to leap the brook — in spite of these 
outdoor attractions. Baby Arthur was ever 
ready to run home to Aunt Mary, as though 
she were his best treasure. 

When Miss Layne had been about six months 
at her mother's, a piece of munificent good 
fortune befel her — as conveyed to her in official 
and non-official communications from India. 
Andrew McAlpin — the head of the great 
McAlpin house in Calcutta, who had respected 
Mary Layne above all women, and had wished 
to marry her, as may be remembered — Andrew 
McAlpin was dead, and had left some of his 
accumulated wealth to Mary. It would amount 
to six hundred a year, and was bequeathed to 
her absolutely ; at her own disposal to will away 
when she in turn should die. In addition to 
this, he directed that the sum of one thousand 
pounds should be paid to her at once. He also 
left a thousand pounds to Mrs. Richard Layne 



96 Johnny Ludlow. 

— but that does not concern us. This good 
man's death brought great grief to Mary. It 
had been the result of an accident : he lay ill 
but a few weeks. As to the fortune — well, of 
course that was welcome, for Mary had been 
casting many an anxious thought to the future 
on sundry scores, and what little money she had 
been able to put by, out of the salary as gover- 
ness at Major Layne's, was now nearly exhausted. 
She thought she knew why Mr. McAlpin had 
thus generously remembered her : and it was 
an additional proof of the thoughtful goodness 
which had ever characterised his life. Oh, if she 
could but have thanked him ! if she had but 
known it before he died ! He had been in the 
habit of corresponding with her since her return 
to Europe, for she and he had remained firm 
friends, but the thought of ever benefiting by 
him in this way had never entered her head. 
As how should it i^ — seeing that he was a strong 
man, and only in the prime of life. She mourned 
his loss ; she thought she could best have spared 
any other friend ; but all the regrets in the 
world would not bring him back to life. He 
was gone. And Allan McAlpin was now sole 
head of the wealthy house, besides inheriting a 
vast private fortune from his brother. Eleanor 
McAlpin, once Eleanor Layne, might well wish 
for more children amidst all her riches. 

The first thing Mary Layne did with some of 
this thousand pounds — which had been conveyed 



A Tale of Sin. 97 

to her simultaneously with the tidings of the 
death — was to convey her mother to the seaside 
for a change, together with Baby Arthur and 
the nurse, Betsey. Before quitting home she 
held one or two interviews with James Sprig- 
gings, the house agent, builder, and decorator, 
and left certain orders with him. On their 
return, old Mrs. Layne did not know her house. 
It had been put into substantial and ornamental 
repair inside and out, and was now one of the 
prettiest, not to say handsomest, in the village. 
All the old carpets were replaced by handsome 
new ones, and a good portion of the furniture 
was new. Pillars had been added to the rather 
small door, giving it an imposing appearance, 
iron outside railings had taken the place of the 
old ones. Mrs. Layne, I say, did not know her 
house again. 

'* My dear, why have you done it ?" cried the 
old lady, looking about her in amazement. ''Is 
it not a waste of money ?" 

*' I think not, mother," was the answer. 
'* Most likely this will be my home for life. Per- 
haps Arthur's home after me. At least it will 
be his until he shall be of an age to go out in 
the world." 

Mrs. Layne said no more. She had got of 
late very indifferent to outward things. Aged 
people do get so, and Mr. Duffham said her 
system was breaking up. The seaside air had 
done her good ; they had gone to it in May^ 

VOL. ir. T ' 



98 Johnny Ludlow. 

and came back in August. Mary added a third 
servant to the household, and things went on as 
before in their quiet routine. 

One afternoon in September, when they had 
been at home about a month, Mary went out, 
and took Arthur. She was going to see a poor 
cottager who had nursed herself, Mary, when 
she was a child, and who had recently lost her 
husband. When they came to the gates of 
Chavasse Grange, past which their road lay. 
Master Arthur made a dead standstill, and 
wholly declined to proceed. The child was in a 
black velvet tunic, the tips of his white drawers 
just discernible beneath it, and his legs bare, 
^own to the white socks : boys of his age were 
dressed so then. As bonny a lad for his six 
years as could be seen anywhere, with a noble, 
fearless bearing. Mary wore her usual black 
silk, a rich one too, with a little crape on it ; the 
mourning for Mr. McAlpin. Arthur was 
staring over the way through the open gates of 
the Grange. 

** I want to go in and see the peacock." 

" Go in and see the peacock!" exclaimed Miss 
Layne, rather struck aback by the demand. 
*'What can you mean, Arthur? — The peacock 
is up by the house." 

" I know it is. We can go up there and see 
|'^ it. Aunt Mary." 

" Indeed we cannot, Arthur. I never heard 
of such a thing." 



A Tale of Sin. 99 

" Betsey lets me go." 

The confession involved all kinds of thoughts, 
and a flush crossed Miss Layne's delicate face. 
The family were not at the Grange, as she knew : 
they had gone up to London in January, when 
Parliament met, and had never returned since : 
but nevertheless she did not like to hear of this 
intrusion into the grounds of the nurse and 
child. The peacock had been a recent acquisi- 
tion ; or, as Arthur expressed it, had just "come 
to live there." When he had talked of it at 
home, Mary supposed he had seen it on the 
slopes in passing. These green slopes, dotted 
here and there with shrubs and flowers, came 
down to the boundary wall that skirted the 
highway. The avenue through the gates wound 
round abruptly, hiding itself beyond the lodge. 

" Come, my dear. It is already late." 

" But, Aunt Mary, you must see the peacock. 
He has got the most splendid tail. Some- 
times he drags it behind him on the grass, and 
sometimes it's all spread out in a beautiful 
round, like that fan you brought home from 
India. Do come." 

Miss Layne did not reply for the moment. 
She was inwardly debating upon what plea she 
could forbid the child's ever going in again to 
see the peacock : the interdiction would sound 
most arbitrary if she gave none. All at once, 
as if by magic, the peacock appeared in view, 
strutting down the slopes, its proud t^\\, vs\ -a^ 

7—^ 



i 



lOO Johnny Ludlow. 

its glory, spread aloft in the rays of the declining 
sun. 

It was too much for Arthur. With a shout 
of delight he leaped off the low foot-path, flew 
across the road, and in at the gates. In vain 
Mary called : in his glad excitement he did not 
so much as hear. 

There ensued a noise as of the fleet foot of a 
horse, and then a crash, a man's shout, and a 
child's cry. What harm had been done ? In 
dire fear Mary Layne ran to see, her legs trem- 
bling under her. 

Just at the sharp turn beyond the lodge, a 
group stood : Sir Geoffry Chavasse had Arthur 
in his arms ; his horse, from which he had flung 
himself, being held and soothed by a mounted 
groom. The lodge children also had come 
running out to look. She understood it in a 
moment : Sir Geoffry must have been riding 
quickly down from the house, his groom behind 
him, when the unfortunate little intruder en- 
countered him just at the turn, and there was 
no possibility of pulling up in time. In fact, 
the boy had run absolutely on to the horse's 
legs. 

She stood, white, and faint, and sick, against 
the wall of the lodge : not daring to look into 
the accident — for Mary Layne was but a true 
woman, timid and sensitive ; as little daring to 
encounter Sir Geoffry Chavasse, whom she had 
not been close to but for a few months short of 



A Tale of Sin. loi 

seven years. That it should have occurred 1 — 
that this untoward thing should have occurred ! 

" I wonder whose child it is ?" she heard Sir 
Geoffry say — and the well-remembered tones 
came home to her with a heart-thrill. " Poor 
little fellow ! could it have been my fault, or his? 
Dovey''-— to the groom — " ride on at once and 
get Mr. Duffham here. Never mind my horse: 
he's all right now. You can lead him up to the 
house. Bill, my lad I*' 

The groom touched his hat, and rode past 
Mary on his errand. Sir Geoffry was already 
carrying the child to the Grange ; Bill, the 
eldest of the lodge fry, following with the 
horse. All in a minute, a wailing cry burst 
from Arthur. 

"Aunt Mary ! Aunt Mary ! Oh, please let 
her come ! I want Aunt Mary." 

And then it struck Sir Geoffry Chavasse that 
a gentleman's child, such as this one by his 
appearance evidently was, would not have been 
out without an attendant. He turned round, 
and saw a lady in black standing by the lodge. 
The wailing cry set in again. 

" Aunt Mary ! I want Aunt Mary." 

There was no help for it. She came on with 
her agitated face, from which every drop of 
blood had faded. Sir Geoffry, occupied with 
the child, did not notice her much. 

" I am so grieved," he began ; " I trust the 



102 Johnny Ludlow. 

injury will be found not to be very serious. My 
horse " 

He had lifted his eyes then, and knew her 
instantly. His own face turned crimson ; the 
words he had been about to say died unspoken 
on his lips. For a moment they looked in each 
other's faces, and might have seen, had the time 
been one of less agitation, how markedly sor- 
rowful care had left its traces there. The next, 
they remembered the present time, and what 
was due from them. 

" I beg your pardon : Miss Layne, I think ?" 
said Sir Geoffry, contriving to release one hand 
and raise his hat. 

"Yes, sir," she answered, and bowed in 
return. 

He sat down on the bank for a moment to 
get a better hold of the child. Blood was drip- 
ping from one of the little velvet sleeves. Sir 
Geoffry, carrying him as gently as was possible, 
made all haste to the house. The window of 
what had been the garden-parlour stood open, 
and he took him into it at once. Ah, how they 
both remembered it! It had been refurnished 
and made grand now : but the room was the 
room still. Sir Geoffry had returned home that 
morning. His wife and Lady Chavasse were 
not expected for a day or two. Scarcely any 
servants were as yet in the house; but the 
woman who had been left in charge, Hester 



A Tale of Sin. 103 

Picker, came in with warm water. She curtsied 
to Miss Layne. 

*' Dear little fellow !" she exclaimed, her 
tongue readyas of old. " How did it happen,sir ?" 
" My horse knocked him down/' replied Sir 
Geofifry. ** Get me some linen, Picker.'* 

The boy lay on the sofa where he had been 
put, his hat off, and his pretty light brown hair 
falling from his face, pale now. Apparently 
there was no injury save to the arm. Sir 
Geoffry looked at Mary. 

*' I am a bit of a surgeon," he said. *' Will 
j^ou allow me to examine his hurt as a surgeon 
would } Duffham cannot be here just yet." 
** Oh yes, certainly," she answered. 
" I must cut his velvet sleeve up." 
And she bowed in acquiescence to that. 
Hester Picker came in with the linen. Before 
commencing to cut the sleeve, Sir Geoffry 
touched the arm here and there, as if testing 
where the damage might lie. Arthur cried out. 
*^ That hurts you," said Sir Geoffry. 
" Not much," answered the little fellow, try- 
ing to be brave. ** Papa's a soldier, and I want 
to be a soldier, so I won't mind a little hurt." 

" Your papa's a soldier ? Ah, yes, I think I 
remember," said Sir Geoffry, turning to Mary. 
'* It is the little son of Captain Layne." 

" My papa is Major Layne now," spoke up 
Arthur before she could make any answer. 
** He and mamma live in India." 



I04 Johnny Ludlow. 

*' And so you want to be a soldier, the same 
as papa ?'' said Sir GeofFry, testing the basin of 
water with his finger, which Picker was holding, 
and which had been brought in full hot. 

" Yes, I do. Aunt Mary there says No, and 
grandmamma says No ; but — oh, what's that ?** 

He had caught sight of the blood for the first 
time, and broke off with a shuddering cry. Sir 
Geoffry was ready now, and had the scissors in 
his hand. But before using them he spoke to 
Miss Layne. 

'* Will you sit here while I look at it ?" he 
asked, putting a chair with its face to the open 
window, and its back to the sofa. And she 
understood the motive and thanked him : and 
said she would walk about outside. 

By-and-by, when she was tired of waiting, 
and all seemed very quiet, she looked in. 
Arthur had fainted. Sir Geoffry was bathing 
his forehead with eau de Cologne ; Picker had 
run for something in a tumbler, and wine stood 
on the table. 

" Was it the pain ? — did it hurt him very 
badly ?" asked Mary, supposing that the arm 
had been bathed and perhaps dressed. 

" I have not done anything to it ; I preferred 
to leave it for Duffham," said Sir Geofifry — and 
at the same moment she caught sight of the 
velvet sleeve laid open, and something lying on 
it that looked like a mass of linen." Mary 
turned even whiter than the ch\\d. 



A Tale of Sin. 105 

"Do not be alarmed," said Sir GeofFry. 
'* Your little nephew is only faint from the loss 
of blood. Drink this," he added, bringing her a 
glass of wine. 

But she would not take it. As Sir Geoffry 
was putting it on the table, Arthur began to 
revive. Young children are elastic — ill one 
minute, well the next ; and he began to talk 
again. 

*' Aunt Mary, are you there ?" 

She moved to the sofa, and took his unin- 
jured hand. 

" We must not tell grandmamma, Aunt Mary. 
It would frighten her." 

** Bless his dear little thoughtful heart !" in- 
terjected Hester Picker. " Here comes some- 
thing." 

The something proved to be a fly, and it 
brought Mr. Duff ham. Before the groom had 
reached the village, he overtook this said fly 
and the surgeon in it, who was then returning 
home from another accident. Turning round 
at the groom's news — " Some little child had 
run against Sir Geoffry's horse, and was hurt" — 
he came up to the Grange. 

When Mr. Duffham saw that it was this 
child, he felt curiously taken to. Up the room 
and down the room looked he ; then at Sir 
Geoffry, then at Miss Layne, then at Hester 
Picker, saying nothing. Last of all he via.lke.d>\^^ 
to the sofa and gazed at the while iaceV^vtv^^itv^^^' 



io6 Johnny Ludlow. 

"Well," said he, "and what's this? And 
how did it happen ?" 

" It was the peacock," Arthur answered. *' I 
ran away from Aunt Mary to look at it, and the 
horse came." 

'^ The dear innocent !" cried Hester Picker. 
** No wonder he ran. It's a love of a peacock." 

" Don't you think it was very naughty, young 
sir, to run from your aunt ?" returned Mr. 
Duff ham. 

" Yes, very ; because she had told me not to. 
Aunt Mary, I'll never do it again." 

The two gentlemen and Hester Picker re- 
mained in the room, Mary again left it. The 
arm was crushed rather badly ; and Mr. 
Duffham knew it would require care and skill 
to cure it. 

" You must send to Worcester for its best 
surgeon to help you," said the baronet, when 
the dressing was over. I feel that I am respon- 
sible to Major Layne." 

Old Duffham nearly closed his eyelids as he 
glanced at the speaker. " I don't think it 
necessary," he said ; " no surgeon can do more 
than I can. However, it may be satisfactory 
to Major Layne that we should be on the safe 
side, so I'll send." 

When the child was ready, Mary got into the 
fly, which had waited, and Mr. Duffham put 
him to lie on her lap. 

" I hope. Miss Layne, I may be allowed to 



A Tale of Sin. 107 

call to-morrow and see how he gets on," said 
Sir Geoffry at the same time. And she did not 
feel that it was possible for her to say No. Mr. 
Duffham got up beside the driver ; to get a 
sniff, he said, of the evening air. 

*' How he is changed ! He has suffered as I 
have," murmured Mary Layne to herself, as 
her tears fell on Baby Arthur, asleep now. ** I 
am very thankful that he has no suspicion." 

The child had said, " Don't tell grand- 
mamma"; but to keep it from Mrs. Layne was 
simply impracticable. With the first stopping 
of the fly at the door, out came the old lady ; 
she had been marvelling what had become of 
them, and was wanting her tea. Mr. Duffham 
took her in again, and said a few word^ 
making light of it, before he lifted out Baby 
Arthur. 

A skilful surgeon was at the house the next 
day, in conjunction with Mr. Duffham, The 
arm and its full use would be saved, he said ; its 
cure effected ; but the child and those about 
him must have patience, for it might be rather 
a long job. Arthur said he should like to 
write to his papa in India, and tell him that it 
was his own fault for running away from Aunt 
Mary; he could write letters in big text hand. 
The surgeon smiled, and told him he must wait 
to write until he could use both arms again. 

The doctors had not left the house many 
minutes when Sir Geoffry Chavasse called, 



io8 Johnny Ludlow, 

having walked over from the Grange. Miss 
Layne sent her mother to receive him, and dis- 
appeared herself. The old lady, her perceptions 
a little dulled with time and age, and perhaps 
also her memory, felt somewhat impressed and 
flattered at the visit. To her it almost seemed 
the honour that it used to be : that one painful 
episode of the past seemed to be as much for- 
gotten at the moment as though it had never 
had place. She took Sir Geoffry upstairs. 

Arthur was lying close to the window, in 
the good light of the fine morning. It was 
the first clear view Sir Geoffry had obtained of 
him. The garden-parlour at the Grange faced 
the east, so that the room on the previous even- 
ing, being turned from the setting sun, had been 
but shady at the best, and the sofa was at the 
far end of it. As Sir Geoffry gazed at the 
child now, the face struck him as being like 
somebody's ; he could not tell whose. The 
dark blue eyes especially, turned up in all their 
eager brightness to his, seemed quite familiar. 

"He says I must not write to papa until I 
get well," said Arthur, who had begun to look 
on Sir Geoffry as an old acquaintance. 

'* Who does ?" asked the baronet. 

*' The gentleman who came with Mr. Duff- 
ham.'' 

** He means the doctor from Worcester, Sir 

Geoffry," put in old Mrs. Layne. She was 

sitting in her easy-chair near, sls ^\ve Kad been 



A Tale of Sin. 109 

previously ; her spectacles keeping the place 
between the leaves of the closed Bible, which 
she had again taken on her lap ; her withered 
hands, in their black lace mittens and frilled 
white ruffles, were crossed upon the Book. 
Every now and then she nodded with incipient 
sleep. 

** I am so very sorry this should have hap- 
pened," Sir Geoffry said, turning to Mrs. Layne. 
" The little fellow was running up to get a look 
at the peacock, it seems ; and I was riding 
rather fast. I shall never ride fast round that 
corner again.*' 

" But, Sir Geoffry, they tell me that the child 
ran right against you at the corner : that it 
was no fault of yours at all, sir." 

*' It was my fault, grandmamma," said Arthur. 
" And, Sir Geoffry, that's why I wanted to 
write to papa ; I want to tell him so." 

" I think I had better write for you," said Sir 
Geoffry, looking down at the boy with a smile. 

*' Will you ? Shall you tell him it was my 
fault ?" 

** No. I shall tell him it was mine." 

" But it was not yours. You must not write 
what is not true. If Aunt Mary thought I 
could tell a story, or write one, oh, I don't know 
what she'd do. God hears all we say, you 
know, sir." 

Sir Geoffry smiled — a sad smile — ^1 \3w^ 
earnest words, at the eager look \tv \.Vv^ \iTv^\. 



no Johnny Ltidlow. 

eyes. Involuntarily the wish came into his mind 
that he had a brave, fearless-hearted, right-prin- 
cipled son, such as this boy evidently was. 

" Then I think I had better describe how it 
happened, and let Major Layne judge for him- 
self whether it was my fast riding or your fast 
running that caused the mischief." 

" You'll tell about the peacock ? It had its 
tail out." 

" Of course I'll tell about the peacock. I 
shall say to Major Layne that his little boy — I 
don*t think I have heard your name," broke off 
Sir Geoffry. '* What is it ?" 

'' It's Arthur. Papa's is Richard. My big 
brothers is Richard too; he is at King's 
College. Which name do you like best, sir ?" 

" I think I like Arthur best. It is my own 
name also." 

*' Yours is Sir Geoffry." 

'' And Arthur as well." 

But at this juncture old Mrs. Layne, having 
started up from a nod, interposed to put a sum- 
mary stop to the chatter, telling Arthur in a 
cross tone that Mr. Duffham and the other 
doctor had forbid him to talk much. And then 
she begged pardon of Sir Geoffry for saying it, 
but thought the doctors wished the child to be 
kept quiet and cool. Sir Geoffry took the 
opportunity to say adieu to the little patient. 

"May I come to see the peacock when I get 
well. Sir Geoffry ?" 



it 



A Tale of Sin. 1 1 1 

** Certainly. You shall come and look at him 
for a whole day if grandmamma will allow you 
to." 

Grandmamma gave no motion or word of 
assent, but Arthur took it for granted. " Betsey 
can bring me if Aunt Mary won't ; Betsey's 
my nurse, sir. I wish I could have him before 
that window to look at while I lie here to get 
well. I like peacocks and musical boxes better 
than anything in the world." 

Musical boxes !" exclaimed Sir GeofFry. 

Do you care for them T^ 

" Oh yes ; they are beautiful. Do you know 
the little lame boy who can't walk, down Pie- 
finch Cut ? His father comes to do grand- 
mamma's garden. Do you know him, Sir 
Geoffry? His name's Reuben." 

" It's Noah, the gardener's son, sir," put in 
Mrs. Layne aside to Sir Geoffry. "He was 
thrown downstairs when a baby, and has been 
a cripple ever since." 

But the eager, intelligent eyes were still cast 
up, waiting for the answer. " Where have I 
seen them ?" mentally debated Sir Geoffry, 
alluding to the eyes. 

** I know the name," he answered. 

" Well, Reuben has got a musical box, and 
it plays three tunes. He is older than I am : 
he's ten. One of them is the ' Blue Bells of 
Scotland.' " 

Sir Geoffry nodded and got away. He went | 



112 Johnny Ludlow. 

straight over to Mr. Duflfham's, and found him 
writing a letter in his surgery. 

" I hope the child will do well," said the 
baronet, when he had shaken hands. " I have 
just been to see him. What an intelligent, nice 
little fellow it is." 

" Oh, he will be all right again in time. Sir 
Geoffry," was the doctor's reply, as he began to 
fold his letter. 

"He is a pretty boy, too, very. His eyes 
are strangely like some one's I have seen, but 
for the life of me I cannot tell whose ?" 

" Really ? — do you mean it ?" cried Mr. 
Duffham, speaking, as it seemed, in some 
surprise. 

" Mean what ?" 

" That you cannot tell." 

" Indeed I can't. They puzzled me all the 
while I was there. Do you know 1 Say, if 
you do." 

'* They are like your own, Sir Geoffry." 

" Like my own !" 

" They are your own eyes over again. And 
yours — as poor Layne used to say, and as the 
picture in the Grange dining-room shows us 
also, for the matter of that — are Sir Peter's. 
Sir Peter's, yours, and the child's : they are all 
the same." 

For a long space of time, as it seemed, the 

two gentlemen gazed at each other. Mr. 

Duffham with a questioning and still surprised 



A Tale of Sin. 113 

look : Sir Geoffry in a kind of bewildered 
amazement. 

" Duffham ! you — you — Surely it is not that 
child !" 

" Yes, it is/' 

He backed to a chair and stumbled into it, 
rather than sat down ; somewhat in the same 
manner that Mrs. Layne had backed against the 
counter nearly seven years before and upset the 
scales. The old lady seemed to have aged since 
quicker than she ought to have done : but her 
face then had not been whiter than was Geoffry 
Chavasse's now. 

" Good heavens !" 

The dead silence was only broken by these 
murmured words that fell from his lips. Mr. 
Duffham finished folding his note, and direc- 
ted it. 

" Sir Geoffry, I beg your pardon ! I beg it 
a thousand times. If I had had the smallest 
notion that you were ignorant of this, I should 
never have spoken." 

Sir Geoffry took out his handkerchief and 
wiped his brow. Some moisture had gathered 
there. 

** How was I to suspect it ?" he asked. 

** I never supposed but that you must have 
known it all along." 

'^ All along from when, Duffham T' 

" From — from — well, from the time you first 
knew that a child was over tViere,*^ 

VOL. II. % 



114 Johnny Ludlow. 

Sir Geofifry cast his thoughts back. He could 
not remember anything about the child's coming 
to Church Dykely. In point of fact, the Grange 
had been empty at the time. 

" I understood that the child was one of 
Captain and Mrs. Layne's," he rejoined. 
*' Everybody said it ; arid I never had any 
other thought. Even yesterday at the Grange 
you spoke of him as such, Duffham." 

" Of course. Miss Layne was present — and 
Hester Picker — and the child himself. I did 
not speak to deceive you, Sir Geofifry. When 
you said what you did to me in coming away> 
about calling in other advice for the satisfaction 
of Major Layne, I thought you were but keep- 
ing up appearances." 

" And it is so, then !'* 

" Oh dear, yes." 

Another pause. Mr. Duff ham afifixed the 
stamp to his letter, and put the paper straight 
in his note-case. Sir Geofifry suddenly lifted 
his hand, like one whom some disagreeable re- 
flection overwhelms. 

" To think that I was about to write to 
Major Layne 1 To think that I should have 
stood there, in the old lady's presence, talking 
boldly with the child ! She must assume that 
I have the impudence of Satan." 

" Mrs. Layne is past that. Sir Geofifry. Her 
faculties are dulled : three parts dead. That 
need not trouble you." 



A Tale of Sin. i r 5 

The baronet put aside his handkerchief and 
took his hat to leave. He began stroking its 
nap with his coat- sleeve. 

** Does my mother know of this, do you think ?** 

" I am sure she neither knows it nor suspects 
it. No one does, Sir Geoffry : the secret has 
been entirely kept.*' 

" The cost of this illness must be mine, you 
know, Duff ham." 

*' I think not, Sir Geoffry," was the surgeon's 
answer. *Mt would not do, I fear. There's no 
need, besides : Miss Layne is rich now." 

** Rich !. How is she rich ?" 

And Mr. Duffham had to explain. A 
wealthy gentleman in India, some connection of 
the Laynes', had died and left money to Mary 
Layne. Six or seven hundred a year; and 
plenty of ready means. Sir Geoffry Chavasse 
went out, pondering upon the world's changes. 

He did not call to see the invalid again ; but 
he bought a beautiful musical box at Worcester, 
and sent it in to the child by Duffham. It played 
six tunes. The boy had never in his life been 
so delighted. He returned his love and thanks 
to Sir Geoffry ; and appended several inquiries 
touching the welfare of the peacock. 

The first news heard by Lady Chavasse and 
Lady Rachel on their coming home, was of the 
accident caused to Major Layne's little son, by 
Sir Geoffry's horse. Hester Picker and tlve. 
other servants .were full of it. It Vv^^^^tve.^ vo 

Z—1 



ii6 Johnny Ltidlow. 

be the day that Sir Geofifry had gone to Wor- 
cester after the box, so he could not join in the 
narrative. A sweet, beautiful boy, said Hester 
to my ladies, and had told them he meant to be 
a soldier when he grew up, as brave as his papa. 
Lady Chavasse, having digested the news, and 
taken inward counsel with herself, decided to go 
and see him : it would be right and neighbourly, 
she thought. It might be that she was wishing 
to bestow some slight mark of her favour upon 
the old lady before death should claim her : 
and she deemed that the honour of a call would 
effect this. In her heart she acknowledged 
that the Laynes had behaved admirably well in 
regard to the past ; never to have troubled her 
or her son by word or deed or letter ; and in 
her heart she felt grateful for it. Some people 
might have acted so differently. 

" I think I will go and see him too," said 
Lady Rachel. 

" No, pray don't," dissented Lady Chavasse, 
hastily. " You already feel the fatigue of your 
journey, Rachel : do not attempt to increase it.'* 

And as Lady Rachel really was fatigued and 
did not care much about it, one way or the other, 
she remained at home. 

It was one of Mrs. Layne's worst days — one 
of those when she seemed three parts childish — 
when Lady Chavasse was shown into the draw- 
ing-room. Mary was there. As she turned to 
receive her visitor, and Vieatd iVv^ maid's an- 



A Tale of Sin. 117 

nouncement " Lady Chavasse/' a great astonish- 
ment inwardly stirred her, but her manner 
remained quiet and self-possessed. Just a 
minute's gaze at each other. Lady Chavasse 
was the same good-looking woman as of yore ; 
not changed, not aged by so much as a day- 
Mary was changed : the shy, inexperienced girl 
had grown into the calm, self-contained woman ; 
the woman who had known sorrow, who had 
got its marks impressed on her face. She had 
been pretty once, she was gravely beautiful now. 
Perhaps Lady Chavasse had not bargained for 
seeing her ; Mary had certainly never thought 
thus to meet Lady Chavasse : but here they 
were, face to face, and each must make the best 
of it. As they did ; and with easy courtesy, 
both being gentlewomen. Lady Chavasse held 
out her hand, and Mary put hers into it. 

After shaking hands with Mrs. Layne — who 
was too drowsy properly to respond, and shut 
her eyes again — my lady spoke a few pleasant 
words : of regret for the accident, of her wish to 
see the little patient, of her hope that Major and 
Mrs. Layne might not be allowed to think any 
care on Sir Geofifry's part could have averted 
it. Mary went upstairs with her. Lady Chavasse 
could but be struck with the improved appear^ 
ance of the house, quite suited now to be the 
abode of gentle-people ; and with its apparently 
well-appointed if small household. 

The child lay asleep : his uurse, ^eX.^^^ > ^"aX. 



I J 8 Johnny Ludlow. 

sewing by his side. The girl confessed that she 
had allowed him sometimes to run in and take a 
look at the peacock. Lady Chavasse would 
not have him awakened : she bent and kissed 
his cheek lightly ; and talked to Mary in a 
whisper. It was just as though there had been 
no break in their acquaintanceship, just as though 
no painful episode, in which they wereantagonistic 
actors, had ever occurred between them. 

" I hear you have come into a fortune, Miss 
Layne," she said, as she shook hands with Mary 
again in the little hall before departure. For 
H ester Picker had told of this. 

" Into a great deal of money," replied Mary. 

" I am glad to hear it ; glady came the part- 
ing response, whispered emphatically in Mary's 
ear, and it was accompanied by a pressure of the 
fingers. 

Mr. Dufifham was standing at his door, watch- 
ing my lady's exit from Mrs. Layne's house, his 
eyes lost in wonder. Seeing him, she crossed 
over, and went in, Mr. Duffham throwing open 
the door of his sitting-room. She began speak- 
ing of the accident to Major Layne's little son, 
— what a doleful pity it was, but that she hoped 
he would do well. Old Dufifham replied that 
he hoped so too, and thought he would. 

** Mrs. Layne seems to be getting very old," 
went on Lady Chavasse. " She was as drowsy 
as she could be this afternoon : she seemed 
iscarcely to know me." 



A Tale of Sin. 119 

" Old people are apt to be sleepy after their 
dinner," returned the doctor. 

And then there was a pause. Lady Chavasse 
(as Duffham's diary expresses it) seemed to be 
particularly absent in manner, as if she were 
thinking to herself, instead of talking to him. 
Because he had nothing else to say, he asked 
after the health of Lady Rachel. That aroused 
her at once. 

" She is not strong. She is not strong. I am 
sure of it." 

.** She does not seem to ail much, that I can 
see," returned Duffham, who often had to hear 
this same thing said of Lady Rachel. " She 
never requires medical advice." 

*' I don't care : she is not strong. There 
are no children," continued Lady Chavasse, 
dropping her voice to a whisper ; and a kind of 
piteous, imploring expression darkened her eyes. 

'' No." 

** Four years married, going on for five, and 
no signs of any. No signs of children, Mr. 
Duffham." 

** I can't help it, my lady," returned Duffham. 

** Nobody can help it. But it is an awful 
misfortune. It is beginning to be a great 
trouble in my life. As the weeks and months 
and years pass on — t\\Q years, Mr. Duffham — 
and bring no hope, my very spirit seems to fail. 
* Hope deferred maketh the heart sick.' " 

" True." ^ 



I20 Johnny Ludlow. 

" It has been the one great desire of my later 
years," continued Lady Chavasse, too much in 
earnest to be reticent, ** and it does not come. 
I wonder which is the worst to be borne ; some 
weighty misfortune that falls and crushes, or a 
longed-for boon that we watch and pray for in 
vain ? The want of it, the eager daily strain of 
disappointment, has become to me worse than a 
nightmare." 

Little Arthur Layne, attended by Betsey, 
spent a day at the Grange on his recovery, 
invited to meet the peacock. The ladies were 
very kind to him : they could but admire his 
gentle manners, his fearless bearing. Sir 
Geoffry played a game at ninepins with him on 
the lawn — which setof ninepins had been hisown 
when a child, and had been lying by ever since. 
Betsey was told she might carry them home for 
Master Layne : Sir Geoffry gave them to him. 

After that, the intercourse dropped again, 
and they became strangers as before. Except 
that Lady Chavasse would bow from her 
carriage if she saw Mrs. or Miss Layne, and 
Sir Geoffry raise his hat. The little boy got 
more notice : when they met him out, and 
were walking themselves, they would, one and 
all, stop and speak to him. 

So this episode of the accident seemed to 
fade into the past, as other things had faded : 
and the time went on. 



A Tale of Sin. 121 



PART THE FOURTH. 

Autumn leaves were strewing the ground^ 
autumn skies were over head. A ray of the 
sun came slantwise into the library, passing 
right across the face of Sir Geoffry Chavasse. 
The face had an older expression on it than his 
thirty years would justify. It looked worn and 
weary, and the bright hair, with its golden 
tinge, was less carefully arranged than it used to 
be, as if exertion were getting to be a burden,, 
or that vanity no longer troubled him ; and his 
frame was almost painfully thin ; and a low 
hacking cough took him at intervals. It might 
have been thought that Sir Geoffry was a little 
out of health, and wanted a change. Lady 
Chavasse, his mother, had begun to admit a 
long-repressed doubt whether any change would 
benefit him. 

A common desk of stained walnut-wood was 
open on the table before him : he had been 
reading over and putting straight some papers 
it contained — notes and diaries, and such like. 
Two or three of these he tore across and threw 
into the fire. Out of a bit of tissue paper, he 
took a curl of bright brown hair, recalling the 



122 Johnny Ludlow. 

day and hour when he had surreptitiously cut it 
off, and refused to give it up again to its blush- 
ing owner. Recalling also the happy feelings 
of that time — surreptitiously still, as might be 
said, for what business had he with them now ? 
Holding the hair to his lips for a brief interval, 
he folded it up again, and took out another bit 
of paper. This contained a lady's ring of chased 
gold set with a beautiful and costly emerald. In 
those bygone years he had bought the ring, 
thinking to give it in payment of the stolen 
hair ; but the young lady in her shyness had 
refused so valuable a present. Sir Geoffry held 
the ring so that its brightness glittered in the 
sun, and then wrapped it up again. Next he 
unfolded a diary, kept at that past period, and 
for a short while afterwards : then it was abruptly 
broken off, and had never since been written in. 
He smiled to himself as he read a page here and 
there — but the smile was full of sadness. 

Lady Chavasse came into the room rather 
abruptly : Sir Geoffry shut up the diary, and 
prepared to shut and lock the desk. There 
was a disturbed, restless, and anxious look on 
my lady's face : there was a far more anxious 
and bitter pain ever making havoc with her 
heart. 

" Why, Geoffry ! have you got out that old 
desk ?" 

Sir Geoffry smiled as he carried it to its 
obscure place in a dark corner of the librar5^ 



A Tale of Sin. 123 

When he was about twelve years old, and they 
were passing through London, he went to the 
Lowther Arcade and bought this desk, for which 
he had been saving up his shillings. 

" I don't believe any lad ever had so valuable 
a prize as I thought I had purchased in that desk, 
mother," was his laughing remark. 

" I dare say it has a vast deal of old rubbish in 
it," said Lady Chavasse, slightingly. 

" Not much else — for all the good it can ever 
be. I was but glancing over the rubbish — 
foolish mementoes of foolish days. These days 
are weary ; and I hardly know how to make 
their hours fly." 

Lady Chavasse sighed at the words. He 
«sed to go shooting in the autumn — fishing — 
hunting once in a way, in the later season : he 
had not strength for these sports now. 

Opening the desk he commonly used, a very 
handsome one that had been Lady Chavasse s 
present to him, he took a small book from it 
and put it into his breast-pocket. Lady Chavasse, 
watching all his movements, as she had grown 
accustomed to do, saw and knew what the book 
was — a Bible. Perhaps nothing had struck so 
much on my lady's fears as the habit he had 
fallen into of reading often the Bible. She had 
come upon him doing it in all kinds of odd 
places. Out amidst the rocks at the seaside, 
where they had recently been staying — and 
should have stayed longer but that he got tired | 



124 Johnny Ludlow^ 

and wanted to come home ; out in the seats of 
this garden, amidst the roses, or where the 
roses had been ; in the library ; in his dress- 
ing-room — Lady Chavasse would see him with 
this small Bible. He always slipped it away 
when she or anyone else approached : but the 
habit was casting on her spirit a very ominous 
shadow. It seemed to show her that he knew 
he must be drawing near to the world that the 
Bible tells of, and was making ready for his 
journey. How her heart ached, ached always^ 
Lady Chavasse would not have liked to 
avow. 

" Where's Rachel T he asked. 

" On her sofa, upstairs." 

Sir Geoffry stirred the fire mechanically, his 
thoughts elsewhere — just as he had stirred it in 
a memorable interview of the days gone by* 
Unconsciously they had taken up the same 
position as on that unhappy morning : he with 
his elbow on the mantel-piece, and his face 
partly turned from his mother ; she in the 
same chair, and on the same red square of the 
Turkey carpet. The future had been before 
them then : it lay in their own hands, so to say, 
to choose the path for good or for ill. Sir Geoffry 
had pointed out which was the right one to take, 
and said that it would bring them happiness. 
But my lady had negatived it, and he could only 
bow to her decree. And so, the turning tide 
was passed, not seized upon, and they had been 



A Tule of Sin. 125- 

sailing since on a sea tolerably smooth, but 
without depth in it or sunshine on it. What had 
the voyage brought forth ? Not much. And it 
seemed, so far as one was concerned, nearly at 
an end now. 

** I fancy Rachel cannot be well, mother," 
observed Sir Geoffry. " She would not lie down 
so much if she were." 

" A little inertness, Geoffry, nothing more. 
About Christmas ?" continued Lady Chavasse. 
^^ Shall you be well enough to go to the Der- 
restons', do you think I" 

" I think we had better let Christmas draw 
nearer before laying out any plans for it," he 
answered. 

" Yes, that's all very well : but I am going 
to write to Lady Derreston to-day, and she'll 
expect me to mention it. Shall you like to go ?" 

A moment's pause, and then he turned to her: 
his clear, dark blue eyes, ever kind and gentle, 
looking straight into hers ; his voice low and 
tender. 

" I do not suppose I shall ever go away from 
the Grange again." 

She turned quite white. Was it coming so 
near as that ? A kind of terror took possession 
of her. 

" Geoffry ! Geoffry /" 

" My darling mother, I will stay with you if 
I can ; you know that. But the fiat does not 
lie with you or with me." 



-126 Johnny Ludlow. 

Sir GeofFry went behind her chair, and put 
his arms round her playfully, kissing her with a 
strange tenderness of heart that he sought to 
hide. 

"It may be all well yet, mother. Don't let 
it trouble you before the time." 

She could not make any rejoinder, could not 
speak, and quitted the room to hide her 
emotion. 

In the after part of the day the surgeon, 
Dufifham, bustled in. His visit was later than 
usual. 

*' And how are you, Sir Geoffry T he asked, 
as they sat alone, facing each other between 
the table and the fire. 

'* Much the same, Duffham." 

" Look here, Sir Geoffry — you should rally 
both yourself and your spirits. It's of no use 
giving way to illness. There's a certain list- 
lessness upon you ; Tve seen it for some time. 
Shake it off.'' 

" Willingly — if you will give me the power 
to do so," was Sir Geoffry's reply. " The list- 
lessness you speak of proceeds from the fact 
that my health and energies fail me. As to my 
spirits, there's nothing the matter with them." 

Mr. Duffham turned over with his fingers a 

glass paper-weight that happened to lie on the 

table, as if he wanted to see the fishing-boats 

on the sea that its landscape represented, and 

then he glanced at Sir Geoffry: 



A Tale of Sin. 127 

** Of course you wish to get well ?" — with a 
slight emphasis on the " wish." 

" Most certainly I wish to get well. For my 
mother s sake — and of course also for my wife's, 
as well as for my own. I don't expect to, 
though, Duffham.*' 

" Well, that's saying a great deal/' retorted 
Duffham, pretending to make a mock of it. 

*• I've not been strong for some time — ^as you 
riiay have seen, perhaps: but since the be- 
ginning of May, when the intensely hot weather 
came in, I have felt as — as " 

" As what. Sir Geoffry ?" 

" As though I should never live to see 
another May, hot or cold." 

" Unreasonable heat has that effect on some 
people, Sir Geoffry. Tries their nerves." 

" I am not aware that it tries mine. My 
nerves are as sound as need be. The insurance 
offices won't take my life at any price, Duffham," 
he resumed. 

" Have you tried them ?" 

" Two of the best in London. When I 
began to grow somewhat doubtful about myself 
in the spring, I thought of the future of those 
near and dear to me, and would have insured 
my life for their benefit. The doctors refused 
to certify. Since then I have felt nearly sure 
in my own mind that what must be will be. 
And, day by day, I have watched the shadow 
drawino- nearer." 



128 Johnny Ludlow. 

The doctor leaned forward and spoke a few 
earnest words of encouragement, before depart 
ing. Sir Geoffry was only too willing to receive 
them — in spite of the inward conviction that 
lay upon him. 

Lady Rachel Chavasse entered the library in 
the course of the afternoon. She wore a 
sweeping silk, the colour of lilac, and gold 
ornaments. Her face had not changed : with its 
classically-carved contour and its pale coldness. 

" Does Duffham think you are better, 
Geoffry ?" 

" Not much, I fancy." 

*' Suppose we were to try another change — 
Germany, or somewhere ?" she calmly sug- 
gested. 

" I would rather be here than anywhere, 
Rachel." 

" I should like you to get well, you know, 
Geoffry." 

" I should like it too, my dear." 

** Mamma has written to ask us to go into 
Somersetshire for Christmas," continued Lady 
Rachel, putting her foot, encased in its black 
satin shoe and white silk stocking, on the fender. 

" Ay. My mother was talking about it just 
now. Well, we shall see between now and 
Christmas, Rachel. Perhaps they can come to 
us instead." 

Lady Rachel turned her very light eyes upon 
her husband : eyes in which there sat often a 



A Tale of Sin, 129 

peevish expression. It was not discernible at 
the present moment : they were coldly calm. 

'* Don't you think you shall be quite well by 
Christmas ?" 

" I cannot speak with any certainty, Rachel." 

She stood a minute or two longer, and then 
walked round the room before the shelves, in 
search of some entertaining book. It was quite 
evident that the state of her husband did not 
bring real trouble to her heart Was the heart 
too naturally cold ? — or was it that as yet no sus- 
picion of the seriousness of the case had pene- 
trated to her ? Something of both, perhaps. 

Selecting a book, she was leaving the library 
with it when Sir Geoffrv asked if she would not 
rather stay by the fire to read. But she said 
she preferred to go to her sofa. 

*' Are you well, Rachel ?" he asked. 

" My back feels tired, always. I suppose we 
are something alike, Geoffry — not over-strong," 
she concluded with a smile. 

That night Duffham made the annexed entry 
in his journal. 

He does know the critical state he is in. 
Has known it, it seems, for some time. I sus- 
pected he did. Sir Geoffry's one that you may 
read as a book in his open candour. He would 
'* get well if he could," he says, for his mother's 
sake. As of course he would, were the result 
under his own control : a fine ^outv^ I^o^n ^^ 

VOL. II. 9 



130 Johnny Ludlow. 

the upper ten, with every substantial good to 
make life pleasant, and no evil habits or 
thoughts to draw him back, would not close his 
eyes on this world without a pang, and a 
struggle to remain a while longer in it. 

I cannot do more for him than I am doing. 
All the faculty combined could not. Neither 
do I say, as he does, that he will not get better : 
on the contrary, I think there's just a chance 
that he will: and I honestly told him so. It's 
just a toss up. He was always delicate until he 
grew to manhood : then he seemed to become 
thoroughly healthy and strong. Query : would 
this delicacy have come back again had his life 
been made as happy as it might have been ? 
My lady can debate that point with herself in 
after years : it may be that she'll have plenty of 
time to do it in. Sir Geoffry's is one of those 
sensitive natures where the mind seems almost 
wholly to influence the body ; and that past 
trouble was a sharp blow to him. Upright and 
honourable, he could not well bear the remorse 
that fell upon him — it has been keenly felt, ay, 
I verily believe, until this hour : another's life 
was blighted that his might be aggrandised. 
My own opinion is, that had he been allowed to 
do as he wished^ and make reparation^ thereby 
securing his own happiness ^ he might have fluftg 
off the tendency to delicacy still and always ; and 
lived to be as old as his father ^ Sir Peter. 
Should my lady ever speak to me upon the 



A Tale of Sin. 131 

subject, I shall tell her this. Geoffry Chavasse 
has lived with a weight upon him. It was not 
so much that his own hopes were gone and 
his love-dream wrecked, as that he had .brought 
far worse than this upon another. Yes ; my 
lady may thank herself that his life seems to 
have been wasted. Had there been children 
he might, in a degree, have forgotten what went 
before, and the mind would no longer have 
preyed upon the body. Has the finger of 
Heaven been in this ? My pen ought to have 
written ''specially in this :" for that Finger is in 
all things. 

I hope he will get better. Yes, I do, in spite 
of a nasty doubt that crops up in my mind as I 
say it. I love him as I did in the old days, and 
respect him more. Qui vivra verra — to borrow a 
French phrase from young Master Arthur over 
theway. And now I put up mydiary for thenight. 



Mrs. Layne was dead. Mary lived alone in 
her house now, with her servants and Arthur. 

Never a woman so respected as she ; never a 
lady, high or low, so revered and looked up to 
as Mary Layne. All the village would fly to 
her on an emergency; and she had both 
counsel and help to give. The poor idolised 
her. A noble, tender, good gentlewoman, with 
the characteristic humility in her bearing that 
had been observable of late ^^Ms^ ^^^ ^^ 

9— a 



132 Johnny Ludlow. 

gentle gravity on her thoughtful face. My 
lady, with all her rank and her show and her 
condescension, had never been half so much 
respected as this. The little boy — in knicker- 
bockers now, and nine years old — was a great 
favourite ; he also got some honour reflected on 
him through Colonel Layne. There had been a 
time of trouble in India, and Major Layne had 
grandly distinguished himself and gained 
honour and promotion. The public papers 
proclaimed his bravery and renown; and 
Arthur got his share of reflected glory. As the 
boy passed on his pony, the blacksmith, Dobbs, 
would shoot out from his forge to look after 
him, and say to the stranger whose horse had 
cast a shoe, *' There goes the little son of the 
brave Colonel Layne : maybe yeVe heerd of 
his deeds over in Ingee." Perhaps the black- 
smith considered he had acquired a kind of 
right in Arthur, since the pony — a sure-footed 
Welsh animal — was kept in the stable that be- 
longed to his forge, and was groomed by him- 
self or son. Miss Layne paid him for it ; but, 
as the blacksmith said, it went again the grain ; 
he'd ha' been proud to do aught for her and the 
little gentleman without pay. 

And somehow, what with one thing and an- 
other, my lady grew to think that if anything 
removed her from Chavasse Grange, Mary 
would take her place as best and chiefest in 
Church Dykely, and she herself would not be 



A Tale of Sin. 133 

missed. But it was odd the thought should 
dawn upon her. Previsions of coming events 
steal into the minds of a great many of us ; we 
know not whence they arise, and at first look 
on them but as idle thoughts, never recognising 
them for what they are — advance shadows of 
the things to be. 

One sunshiny afternoon, close upon winter, 
Arthur and Mr. Duffham went out riding. 
Mary watched them start; the doctor on his 
old grey horse (that had been her father's), and 
Arthur on his well-groomed pony. The lad 
sat well; as brave-looking a little gentleman, 
with his upright carriage, open face, and nice 
attire — for Mary was particular there — ^as had 
ever gratified a fond aunt's eye, or a black- 
smith's heart. 

Close by the gates of Chavasse Grange, they 
met Sir Geoffry and his mother strolling forth. 
Mr. Duffham's hopes had not been fulfilled. 
Outwardly there was not much change in the 
baronet, certainly none for the better ; inwardly 
there was a great deal. He knew now how 
very certain his fate was, and that it might not 
be delayed for any great length of time ; a few 
weeks, a few months : as God should will. 

" Lady Rachel is not well," observed Sir 
Geoffry to the surgeon. " You must see her, 
Duffham. I suppose you can't come in now ?" 

"Yes I can; I'm in no hurry," was the 
doctor's answer. 



134 Johnny Ludlozv. 

*' May I come too, and see the peacock, Sir 
Geoffry ? Til wait here, though, if Mr. Duff- 
ham thinks I ought." 

Of course the boy was told that the peacock 
would take it as a slight if he did not pay him 
a visit, and they all turned up the avenue. 
Arthur got off his pony and led it, and talked 
with Lady Chavasse. 

" Why did you get off yet ?" asked Sir 
Geoffry, turning to him. 

" Lady Chavasse is walking," answered the 
boy, simply. 

It spoke volumes for his innate sense of 
politeness. Sir Geoffry remembered that he 
had possessed the same when a child. 

" Have you heard what papa has done V* 
asked Arthur, putting the question generally. 
"It has been in all the newspapers, and he is 
full colonel now. Did you read it, Sir Geoffry ?'' 

" Yes, I read it, Arthur." 

" And the Queen's going to thank papa when 
he comes to England, and to make him Sir 
Richard. Everybody says so. Dobbs thinks 
papa will be made general before he dies." 

Dobbs was the blacksmith. They smiled at 
this. Not at the possibility for Colonel Layne, 
but at Dobbs. 

" And, with it all. Aunt Mary does not want 
me to be a soldier 1" went on the boy in rather 
an aggrieved tone. ** Richard's enough," she 
says. ^'Dick gets on so weW at K\tv^^ Ccf^fc?^^\ 



^ Tale of Sin. 135 

he IS to go to Woolwich next. I don't see the 
peacock !" 

They had neared the house, but the gay- 
plumaged bird, for which Arthur retained his 
full admiration, was nowhere in sight. Servants 
came forward and led ihe horses away. Mr. 
Duffham went on to see Lady Rachel : Arthur 
was taken into the garden parlour by Sir Geoffry. 

** And so you would like to be a soldier 1" he 
said, holding the boy before him, and looking 
down at his bright, happy face. 

*' Oh, I should : very much. If papa says I 
am not to be— or mamma — or Aunt Mary — if 
they should tell me * No no, you shall notl why it 
would be at an end, and I'd try and like some- 
thing else." 

" Listen, Arthur," said Sir Geoffry, in a low 
earnest tone. " What you are to be, and what 
you are not to be, lie alike in the will of God. 
He will direct you aright no doubt, when the 
time of choice shall come " 

" And that's what Aunt Mary says," inter- 
rupted the lad. ** She says there's the pea- 
cock !" 

He had come round the corner, his tail trailing; 
the poor pea-hen following humbly behind him, 
as usual. Arthur went outside the. window. 
The peacock had a most unsocial habit of stalk- 
ing away with a harsh scream if approached ; 
Arthur knew this, and stayed -wVv^Ye. \v^ N^'a:^, 
talking still with Sir Geoffry. \^W\\ \-.'^^'i 



136 Johnny Ludlow.^ 

Chavasse entered, he was deep in a story of the 
musical box. 

** Yes, a wicked boy went into Reuben Noah's, 
and broke his box for the purpose. Aunt Mary 
is letting me get it mended for him with some 
sixpences I had saved up. Reuben is very ill 
just now — in great pain ; and Aunt Mary has 
let me lend him mine — he says when he can 
hear the music, his hip does not hurt him so 
much. You are not angry with me for lending 
it, are you. Sir Geoffry ?" 

" My boy, I am pleased." 

" Why should Sir Geoffry be angry — ^what 
is it to him ?" cried Lady Chavasse, amused 
with the chatter. 

"Sir Geoffry gave it to me," said Arthur, 
looking at her with wide-open eyes, in which 
the great wonder that anybody should be igno- 
rant of that fact was expressed. " Reuben 
wishes he could get here to see the peacock : 
but he can't walk, you know. I painted a beau- 
tiful one on paper and took it to him. Aunt 
Mary said it was not much like a real peacock ; 
it was too yellow. Reuben liked it : he hung 
it up on his wall Oh !" 

For the stately peacock, stepping past the 
window as if the world belonged to him, sud- 
denly threw wide his tail in an access of native 
vanity. The tail had not long been renewed, 
and was in full feather. Arthur's face went into 
a radiant glow. Lady Chavasse, stv\\\\tv^ ^\. xN\^ 



A Tale of Sin, 137 

childish delight, produced some biscuit that the 
peacock was inordinately fond of, and bade him 
go and feed it. 

" Oh, Geoffry," she exclaimed in the impulse 
of the moment, as the boy vaulted away, " if 
you had but such a son and heir as that!" 

" Ay. It might have been, mother. That 
child himself might have been Sir Arthur after 
me, had you so willed it." 

** Been Sir Arthur after you !" she exclaimed. 
" Are you in a dream, Geoffry ? That child !" 

" I have thought you did not know him, but 
I never felt quite sure. He passes to the world 
for the son of Colonel Layne — as I trust he may 
so pass always. Don't you understand ?" 

It was so comical a thing, bringing up 
thoughts so astounding, and the more especially 
because she had never had the remotest sus- 
picion of it, that Lady Chavasse simply stared 
at her son in silence. All in a moment a fiery 
resentment rose up in her heart : she could not 
have told at whom or what. 

" I will never believe it, Geoffry. It cannot 
ber 

" It is^ mother." 

He was leaning against the embrasure of the 
window as he stood, watching the boy in the 
distance throwing morsels of biscuit right into 
the peacock's mouth, condescendingly held wide 
to receive them. Lady Chavasse caxv^\. ^^ 
strange sadness glistening in \vet sov^s* e>j^^> 



138 JoJmny Ludlow. 

and somehow a portion of her hot anger died 
away. 

" Yes : there was nothing to prevent it,'^ 
sighed Sir Geoffry. " Had you allowed it, 
mother, the boy might have been born my law- 
ful son, my veritable heir. Other sons might 
have followed him : the probability is, there 
would have been half a dozen of them feeding 
the peacock now, instead of — of — I was going to 
say of worse than none." 

Lady Chavasse looked out at the boy with 
eager, devouring eyes : and whether there was 
more of longing in their depths, or of haughty 
anger, a spectator could not have told. In that 
same moment a vision, so vivid as to be almost 
like reality, stole before her mental sight — of 
the half-dozen brave boys crowding round the 
peacock, instead of only that one on whose birth 
so cruel a blight had been cast. 

" A noble heir he would have made us, 
mother ; one of whom our free land might have 
been proud," spoke Sir Geoffry in a low tone of 
yearning that was mixed with hopeless despain 
** He bears my name, Arthur. Td give my 
right hand — aye, and the left too — if he could be 
Sir Arthur after me !" 

Arthur turned round. His cap was on the 
grass, his blue eyes were shining. 

*• He is frightfully greedy and selfish. Lady 
Chavasse. He will not let the peahen have a 
bit." 



A Tale of Sin, 139 

" A beautiful face," murmured Sir GeofFry. 
" And a little like what mine must have been 
at his age, I fancy. Sometimes I have thought 
that you would see the likeness, and that it 
might impart a clue." 

** Since when have you known him ? — known 

this r 

** Since the day after the accident, when my 
horse threw him down. Duffham dropped an 
unintentional word, and it enlightened me. 
Some nights ago I dreamt that the little lad 
was my true heir," added Sir Geoffry. " I saw 
you kiss him in the dream.'' 

" You must have been letting your thoughts 
run on it very much," retorted Lady Chavasse, 
rather sharply. 

" They are often running on it, mother : the 
regret for what might have been and for what 
is, never seems to leave me," was his reply. 
** For some moments after I awoke from that 
dream I thought it was reality : I believe I 
called out * Arthur.* Rachel started, and in- 
quired between sleep and wake what the matter 
was. To find it was only a dream — to remem- 
ber that what is can never be changed or 
redeemed in this world, was the worst pain 
of all." 

*' You may have children yet," said Lady 
Chavasse, after a pause. " It is not impossible." 

" Well, I suppose not impossible," was the 
hesitating rejoinder. '* But " 



I40 Johnny Ludlow. 

" But you don't think it. Say it out, GeofFry/' 

'* I do not think it. My darling mother, don't 
you see how it is with me ?" he added in an 
impulse of emotion — " that I am not to live. A 
very short time now, and I shall be lying with 
my father." 

A piteous cry broke from her. It had to be 
suppressed. The ungrateful peacock, seeing no 
more dainty biscuit in store, had fluttered off 
with a scream, putting his tail down into the 
smallest possible compass ; and Arthur came 
running back to the room. Mr. Duffham next 
appeared ; his face grave, his account of Lady 
Rachel evasive. He suspected some latent 
disease of the spine, but did not wish to say so 
just yet. 

The horse and pony were brought round. 
Arthur and the doctor mounted : Arthur turning 
round to lift his cap to Lady Chavasse and Sir 
Geoffry as he rode away. A noble boy in all 
his actions; sitting his pony like the young 
chieftain he ought to have been but for my 
lady's adverse will. 

But Mr. Duffham was by no means prepared 
for an inroad on his privacy made that evening 
by my lady. She surprised him in his shabbiest 
parlour when he was taking his tea : the old tin 
teapot on the Japan tray, and the bread-and- 
butter plate cracked across. Zuby Noah, Duff- 
ham's factotum, was of a saving turn, and never 
would bring in the best things but on Sundays. 



A Tale of Sin. 141 

He had a battle with her over it sometimes, but 
it did no good. Duff ham thought Lady Cha- 
vasse had come to hear about Lady Rachel, 
but he was mistaken. 

She began with a despairing cry, by way of 
introduction to the interview : Zuby might have 
heard it as she went along the kitchen passage, 
but for her clanking pattens. The man-servant 
was out that evening, and Zuby was in waiting. 
Duffham, standing on the old hearth-rug, found 
his arm seized hold of by Lady Chavasse. He 
had never seen her in agitation like this. 

" Is it to be so really ? Mr. Duffham, can 
nothing be done ? Is my son to die before my 
very eyes, and not be saved ?" 

" Sit down, pray. Lady Chavasse !" cried 
Duffham, trying to hand her into the chair that 
had the best-looking cushion on it, and wishing 
he had been in the other room and had not 
slipped on his worn old pepper-and-salt coat. 

"He ought not to die — to die and leave no 
children !" she went on, as if she were a lunatic. 
*^ If there, were but one little son — ^but one — to 
be the heir ! Can't you keep him in life ? there 
may be children yet, if he only lives." 

Her eyes were looking wildly into his ; her 
fingers entwined themselves about the old grey 
cuffs as lovingly as though they were of silk 
velvet. No : neither Duffham nor anybody 
else had ever seen her like this. It was as 
though she thought it lay with Duffham to keep 



142 Johnny Ludlow. 

Sir Geoffry in life and to endow Chavasse 
Grange with heirs. 

" Lady Chavasse, I am not in the place of 
God." 

" Don't you care for my trouble 'i Don't you 
care for it .'^" 

" I do care. I wish I could cure Sir Geoffry." 

Down sat my lady in front of the fire, in her 
dire tribulation. By the way she stared at it, 
Duffham thought she must see in it a vision of 
the future. 

" We shall have to quit the Grange, you know, 
if he should die : I and Lady Rachel. Better 
that I had quitted it in my young life ; that I 
had never had a male child to keep me in it. I 
thought that would have been a hardship : but 
oh, it would have been nothing to this.'* 

** You shall drink a cup of tea, Lady Chavasse 
— if you don't mind it's being poured out of this 
homely tea-pot," said Duffham. — ^* Confound 
that Zuby !" he cried, under his breath. 

" Yes, I will take the tea — put nothing in it. 
My lips and throat are dry with fever and pain. 
I wish I could die instead of Geoffry ! I wish 
he could have left a little child behind to bless 
me!" 

Duffham, standing up while she drank the 

tea, thought it was well that these trials of awful 

pain did not fall often in a lifetime, or they 

would wear out alike the frame and the spirit. 

She grew calm again. As if asYv^rcv^d oC the 



A Tale of Sin. 143 

agitation betrayed, her manner took gradually a 
kind of hard composure, her face a defiant ex- 
pression. She turned it on him. 

" So, Mr. Duffham ! It has been well done 
of you, to unite with Sir Geoffry in deceiving 
me! That child over the way has never been 
Colonel Layne's." 

And then she went on in a style that put 
Duffham's back up. It was not his place to tell 
her, he answered. At the same time he had had 
no motive to keep it from her, and if she had 
ever put the question to him, he should readily 
have answered it. Unsolicited, unspoken to, of 
course he had held his peace. As to uniting 
with Sir Geoffry to deceive her, she deceived 
herself if she thought anything of the kind. 
Since the first moment they had spoken to- 
gether, when the fact had become known to Sir 
Geoffry, never a syllable relating to it had been 
mentioned between them. And then, after 
digesting this for a few minutes in silence, she 
went back to Sir Geoffry's illness. 

"It is just as though a blight had fallen on 
him," she piteously exclaimed, lifting her hand 
and letting it drop again. "A blight.** 

" Well, Lady Chavasse, I suppose something 
of the kind did fall upon him," was Duffham's 
answer. 

And that displeased her. She turned her 
offended face to the doctor, and inquired what 
he meant by saying it. 



144 Johnny Ludlow, 

So Duffham set himself to speak out. He had 
said he would, if ever the opportunity came. 
Reverting to what had happened some nine or 
more years ago, he told her that in his opinion 
Sir Geoffry had never recovered it : that the 
trouble had so fixed itself upon him as to have 
worked insensibly upon his bodily health. 

** Self-reproach and disappointment were com- 
bined, Lady Chavasse ; for there's no doubt that 
the young lady was very dear to him," concluded 
Duffham. '* And there are some natures that 
cannot pick up again after such a blow." 

She was staring at Duffham with open eyes, 
not understanding. 

" You do net mean to say that — that the dis- 
appointment about her has killed Sir Geoffry ?" 

"My goodness, no I" cried Duffham, nearly 
laughing. ** Men are made of tougher stuff 
than to die of the thing called love, Lady 
Chavasse. What is it Shakespeare says ? — 
' Men have died, and worms have eaten them, 
but not for love.' There is no question but that 
Sir Geoffry has always had an inherent tendency 
to delicacy of constitution," he continued more 
seriously : " my partner, Layne, told me so. It 
was warded off for a time, and he grew into a 
strong, hearty man : it might perhaps have been 
warded off for good. But the blight — as you 
aptly express it, Lady Chavasse — came : and 
perhaps since then the spirit has not been able 
to maintain its own proper struggle for exis- 



A Tale of ShK 145 

tence-^in which h'es a great deal, mind you ; 
and now that the original weakness has shown 
itself again, he cannot shake it off." 

** But — according to that — he is dying of the 
blight ?" 

"Well — in a sense, yes. If you like to put 
it so." 

Her lips grew white. There rose before her 
mind that one hour of bitter agony in her life- 
time and her son's, when he had clasped his 
pleading hands on hers, and told her in a voice 
hoarse with its bitter pain and emotion that if 
she decided against him he could never know 
happiness again in this world : that to part from 
one to whom he was bound by sweet endear- 
ment, by every tie that ought to bind man to 
woman, would be like parting with life. En- 
trenched in her pride, she had turned a deaf 
ear, and rejected his prayer : and now — there 
had come of it what had come. Yes, as Lady 
Chavasse sat there, she had the satisfaction of 
knowing that the work was hers. 

" A warmer climate ?-— would it restore him i^'* 
she exclaimed, turning her hot eyes on Mr. 
Duffham. 

*^ Had it been likely to do so, Lady Chavasse, 
I should have sent him to one long ago.'' 

She gathered her mantle of purple velvet 
about her as she got up, and went out of the 
room in silence, giving Doiffham her hand to 
shake in token oi friendship, 

VOL. 11. \0 



146 Johnny Ludlow. 

Duffham opened the front door, and was con- 
fronted by a tall footman — with a gold-headed 
cane and big white silk calves — who had been 
waiting in the air for his lady. She took the 
way to the Grange ; the man and his protecting 
cane stepping grandly after her. 



*• Sir Geoffry Chavasse." 

Buried in her own reflections by the drawing- 
room fire, in the coming dusk of the winter's 
evening, Miss Layne thought her ears must 
have deceived her. But no. It was Sir Geoffry 
who advanced as the servant made the an- 
nouncement ; and she rose to meet him. 
Strangely her heart fluttered : but she had been 
learning a lesson in calmness for many years ; he 
had too, perhaps ; and they shook hands quietly 
as other people do. Sir Geoffry threw back his 
overcoat from his wasted form as he sat down. 

Wasted more than ever now. Some weeks 
have gone on since my lady's impromptu visit 
to Mr. Duffham's tea-table ; winter is merging 
into spring ; and the most sanguine could no 
longer indulge hope for Sir Geoffry. 

** You have heard how it is with me ?" he 
began, looking at Mary, after getting up his 
short breath. 

'* Yes," she faintly answered. 

''/ couJd not die without seevt\^ '^ou, Mary^ 



A Tale of Sin.' 147 

and speaking a word of farewell. It was in my 
mind to ask you to come to the Grange for half 
an hour's interview ; but I scarcely saw how to 
accomplish it : it might have raised some specu- 
lation. So, as the day has been fine and mild, 
I came to you." 

" You should have come earlier," she mur- 
mured. " It is getting late and cold." 

" I did come out earlier. But I have been 
with Duffham." 

Moving his chair a little nearer to hers, he 
spoke to her long and earnestly. In all that 
was said there seemed to be a solemn meaning 
— as is often the case when the speaker is 
drawing to the confines of this world and about 
to enter on the next He referred a little to 
the past, and there was some mutual explanation. 
But it seemed to be of the future that Sir 
Geoffry had come mostly to speak — the future 
of Baby Arthur. 

" You will take care of him, Mary ? — of his 
best interests ?" And the tears came into 
Mary Layne's eyes at the words. He could 
not really think it necessary to ask it. 

*' Yes. To the very utmost of my permitted 
power." 

" I am not able to leave him anything. You 
know how things are with us at the Grange. 
My wish would have been good " 

" It is not necessary," she mtettu^X.^^. ^^ K^. 
I have will be his, Sir Geoffry." 

TO — 'i 



148 Johnny Ludlow. 

''^Sir Geoffry ! Need you keep up that farce, 
Mary, in this our last hour? He seems to 
wish to be a soldier : and I cannot think but 
what the profession will be as good for him as 
jiny other, provided you can like it for him. 
You will see when the time comes : all that lies 
in the future. Our lives have been blighted, 
Mary : and I pray God daily and hourly that, 
being so, it may have served to expiate the sin 
— my sin, my love, it was never yours — and 
that no shame may fall on him." 

*^ I think it will not," she softly said, the 
painful tears dropping fast. " He will always 
be regarded as Colonel Layne's son : the very 
few who know otherwise — Mr. Duffham, 
Colonel and Mrs. Layne, and Lady Chavasse 
now — all will be true to the end.*' 

" Ay. I believe it too. I think the boy 
may have a bright and honourable career 
before him : as much so perhaps as though he 
had been born my heir. I think the regret 
that he was not — when he so easily might 
have been — has latterly helped to wear me out, 
Mary." 

" I wish you could have lived, Geoffry !'* she 
cried from between her blinding tears. 

'* I have wished it also," he answered, his 
tone full of pain. *^ But it was not to be. When 
the days shall come that my mother is alone, 
save for Lady Rachel, and grieving for me, I 
want you to promise that you will sometimes 



A Tale of Sin. I49 

see her and give her consolation. Something 
tells me that you can do this, Mary, that she 
will take it from you — and I know that she will 
need it sadly. Be kind to her when I am 
gone." 

" Yes. I promise it." 

" You are the bravest of us all, Mary. And 
yet upon you has lain the greatest suffer-* 
ing!" 

" It is the suffering that has made me brave," 
she answered. ** Oh, Geoffry, I am getting to 
realise the truth that it is better to have too 
much of suffering in this world than too little. 
It is a truth hard to learn : but once learnt, it 
brings happiness in enduring." 

Sir Geoffry nodded assent- He had learnt 
somewhat of it also — too late. 

"J have begun a confidential letter to Colonel 
Layne, Mary, and shall post it before I die* 
To thank him for " 

The words were drowned in a gleeful com- 
motion — caused by the entrance of Arthur. 
The boy came dashing in from his afternoon's 
study with the curate, some books under his 
arm. 

" I have not been good, Aunt Mary. He 
said I gave him no end of trouble ; and Tm 
afraid I did : but, you see, I bought the marbles 
going along, instead of in coming back as you 
told me, and — who's that T^ 

In letting his books fall on a side-table, he 



150 Johnny Ludlow. 

had caught sight of the stranger — then standing 
up. The fire had burnt low, and just for the 
moment even the young eyes did not recognise 
Sir Geoffry Chavasse, Mary stirred the fire 
into a blaze, and drew the crimson curtains 
before the window, 

" What have you come for ?" asked the little 
lad, as Sir Geoffry took his hand. " Are you 
any better, sir ?" 

" I shall never be better in this world, 
Arthur. And so you gave your tutor trouble 
this afternoon !" 

" Yes ; I am very sorry : I told him so. It 
was all through the marbles. I couldn't keep 
my hands out of my pockets. Just look what 
beauties they are !" 

Out came a handful of " beauties/' of many 
colours. But Mary, who was standing by the 
mantel-piece, her face turned away ; bade him 
put them up again. Arthur began to feel that 
there was some kind of hush upon the room. 

" I have been talking to Miss Layne about 
your future — for, do you know, Arthur, you are 
a favourite of mine," said Sir Geoffry. '* Ever 
since the time when my horse knocked you 
down — and might have killed you — I have 
taken a very warm interest in your welfare. I 
have often wished that you — that you " — he 
seemed to hesitate in some emotion — *'were 
my own little son and heir to succeed me ; but 
of course that cannot be. 1 dotvt Vtvo^ N^Nx-ax 



A Tale of Sin. 1 5 1 

profession you will choose, or may be chosen for 
you " 

" I should like to be a soldier," interrupted 
Arthur, lifting his sparkling eyes to Sir 
Geoffry s. 

** Your ideas may change before the time for 
choosing shall come. But a soldier may be as 
brave a servant of God as of his Queen : should 
you ever become a soldier, will you remember 
this truth ?" 

" Yes/* said Arthur in a whisper, for the 
grave tones and manner impressed him with 
some awe. 

Sir Geoffry was sitting down and holding 
Arthur before him. To the latter's intense 
surprise, he saw two tears standing on the 
wasted cheeks. It made him feel a sort of dis- 
comfort, and he began, as a relief, to play with 
the chain and seal that hung on the baronet's 
waistcoat. A transparent seal with a plain 
device on it. 

** Should you like to have them when I am 
gone, Arthur — and wear them in remembrance 
of me when you are old enough ? I think it 
must be so : no one can have a better right to 
them than my little friend who once nearly lost 
his arm by my carelessness. I will see about 
it. But I have a better present than that — 
which I will give you now." 

Taking from his pocket the small Bihl^l\v5iX 
had been his companion (or sorcv^ xaow^^^"^^ 



i$2 Johnny Ludlow, 

« 

put it into Arthur's hands, telling him that he 
had written his name in it. And the child, 
turning hastily to the fly-leaf, saw it there : 
" Arthur Layne. From G. A. C." Lower 
down were the words : " Come unto Me all ye 
that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give 
you rest." 

" Jesus said that !*' cried the boy, simply. 

** Jesus Christ My Saviour and yours — for 
I am sure you will let Him be yours. Do 
not part with this Book, Arthur. Use it always : 
I have marked many passages in it. Should it 
be your fate ever to encamp on the battle-field, 
let the Book be with you : your guide and friend. 
In time you will get to love it better than any 
book that is to be had in the world." 

The child had a tender heart, and began to 
cry a little. Sir Geoffry drew him nearer. 

" I have prayed to God to bless you, Arthur. 
But you know, my child. He will only give His 
best blessing to those who seek it, who love and 
serve Him. Whatsoever may be your lot in life, 
strive to do your duty in it, as before God ; 
loving Him, loving and serving your fellow- 
creatures ; trusting ever to Christ's atonement. 
These are my last solemn words to you. Do 
you always remember them.'' 

His voice faltered a little, and Arthur began 
to sob. " Oh, Sir Geoffry, must you die ?" 

Sir Geoffry seemed to be breathing fast, as 
though agitation were getting too much for him. 



A Tale of Sin. 153 

He bent his head and kissed the boy's face fer- 
vently : his brow, his cheeks, his lips, his eyelids 
— there was not a spot that Sir GeofFry did not 
leave a kiss upon. It quite seemed as though 
his heart had been yearning for those kisses, 
and as though he could not take enough of 
them. 

"And now, Arthur, you must do a little 
errand for me. Go over to Mr. Duffham, and 
tell him I am coming. Leave the Bible on the 
table here." 

Arthur went out of the house with less noise 
than he had entered it. Sir Geoffry rose. 

" It is our turn to part now, Mary* I must 
be gone." 

Her sweet face was almost distorted with the 
efforts she had been making to keep down 
emotion before the child. She burst into a sob- 
bing cry, as her hand met Sir Geoffry's. 

'* God bless you ! God bless you always, my 
darling !" he murmured. *' Take my thanks, 
once for all, for the manner in which you have 
met the past ; there's not another woman living 
who would have done and borne as you have. 
This is no doubt our last meeting on earth, 
Mary ; but in eternity we shall be together for 
ever. God bless you, and love you, and keep 
you always !" 

A lingering hand-pressure, a steady look into 
each other's eyes, reading the present anguish 
there, reading also the future trust, and tk^^ 



154 Johnny Ludlow. 

their lips met — surely there was no wrong in 
it ! — and a farewell kiss of pain was taken. Sir 
Geoffry went out, buttoning his overcoat across 
his chest. 

A fly was waiting before Mr. Duffham's 
house ; the surgeon and Arthur were standing 
by it on the pavement. Sir Geoffry got inside. 

" Good-bye, Sir Geoffry !" cried the little lad, 
as Mr. Duffham, saying he should be at the 
Grange in the morning, was about to close the 
door. " I shall write and tell papa how good 
youVe been, to give me your own Bible. I can 
write small-hand now." 

*' And fine small-hand it is !*' put in old Duff- 
ham in disparagement. 

Sir Geoffry laid his hand gently on Arthur's 
head, and kept it there for a minute. His lips 
were moving, but he said nothing aloud. Arthur 
thought he had not been heard. 

'* Good-bye, Sir Geoffry," he repeated. 

** Good-bye, my child." 



Sir Geoffry lay back in an easy-chair in front of 
the fire in his library. The end was near at hand 
now, but he was bearing up quite well to the last 
Lady Chavasse, worn nearly to a shadow with 
grief and uncertainty — for there were times yet 
when she actually entertained a sort of hope — 
sat away in the shade ; her e^esv^aXcVvcv^^N^t^ 



A Tale of Sin. 155 

change in his countenance, her heart feeling 
ever its bitter repentance and despair. 

Repentance ? Yes, and plenty of it For 
she saw too surely what might have been and 
what was — and knew that it was herself, her- 
self only, who had worked out this state of 
things. Her self-reproach was dreadful ; her 
days and nights were one long dream of agony. 
Lady Rachel was not with them very much. 
She lay down more than ever in her own room ; 
and Lady Chavasse had begun to learn that 
this nearly continuous lying was not caused by 
inert idleness, but of necessity. The Grange 
was a sad homestead now. 

The blaze from the fire flickered on Sir 
Geoffry's wasted face. Hers was kept in the 
shadow, or it might have betrayed the bitter- 
ness of her aching heart. He had been speak- 
ing of things that touched her conscience. 

" Yes, it was a sin, mother. But it might 
have been repaired ; and, if it had been, I 
believe God would have blessed us all. As it 
is — well, we did not repair it, you and I ; and 
so — and so, as I take it, there has not been 
much of real blessing given to us here; cer- 
tainly not of heartfelt comfort I seem to see 
all things clearly now — if it be not wrong to 
say it'* 

Lady Chavasse saw them too — though 
perhaps not exactly in the way he twe.'axvt* 
Never was the vision, of w\\atm\^\v\.\va.Me\i^«v. 



J 56 Johnny Ltcdlow. 

more vividly before her than now as he spoke. 
She saw him, a hale happy man ; his wife Mary; 
their children, a goodly flock ; all at the Grange, 
and herself first amidst them, reigning para- 
mount, rejoicing in her good and dutiful 
daughter-in-law. Oh, what a contrast between 
that vision and reality! A pent-up groan escaped 
her lips ; she coughed to smother it. 

" Mother !" 

" Well, Geoffry ?" 

'^ You need not have suppressed my last 
letter to Mary — the one of explanation I wrote 
when I quitted her and the Grange. You might 
have been sure of me — that I would be true 
to my word to you." 

No answer. There was a great deal that 
she would not suppress, besides the letter, if the 
time had to come over again. The fire-log 
sparkled and crackled and threw its jets of 
flame upwards ; but no other noise disturbed 
the room's stillness* 

" Mother !" 

" Well, Geoffry ?" 

** I should like the child, little Arthur, to have 
my watch and its appendages. Have you any 
objection ?" 

" None." 

"It will be looked upon, you know, as a 
token of remembrance to the little fellow who 
had so sharp an illness through my horse." 



A Tale of Sin. j^j 

*^ And — I have two desks, you know. The 
old one of common stained wood I wish sent to 
Miss Layne, locked as it is. The key I will 
enclose in a note. Let them be sent to her 
when I am dead." 

*^ It shall be done, Geoffiy/' 

" There's not much in the desk. Just a few 
odds and ends of papers ; mementoes of the 
short period when I was happy — though I 
ought not to have been. Nothing of value ; ex- 
cept a ring that I bought for her at Worcester 
at the time, and which she would not take." 

" I promise it, Geoffry. I will do all you 
wish." 

** Thank you. You have ever been my 
loving friend, mother." 
jEver, Geoffry?" 

Well — you did for the best there, mother ; 
though it was a mistake. You acted for what 
you thought my welfare.*' 

** Would you not like to see her, Geoffry ?" 

'* I have seen her and bidden her farewelL It 
was the afternoon I went to Duff ham's and you 
said I had stayed out too late. And now I 
think I'll lie down on the sofa, and get, if I 
can, a bit of sleep ; I feel tired. To-morrow I 
will talk about you and Rachel — and what will 
be best for you both. I wish to my heart, for 
your sake and hers, that Rachel had borne a 
son ; I am thinking of you both davlY»^^^dL ^S. 
what you will do when 1 am gotve*' 



it 



158 Johnny Ludlozu. 

" I shall never know pleasure in life again, 
Geoffry," she cried, with a catching sob. " Life 
for me will be, henceforth, one of mortificati on 
and misery." 

" But it will not last for ever. O mother I 
how merciful God is ! — to give us the blessed 
hope of an eternal life of perfect happiness, after 
all the mistakes and tribulations and disap- 
pointments of this ! My darling mother ! we 
shall all be there in sweet companionship for 



ever." 



They buried Sir Geoffry Chavasse by the 
side of his father — and anybody that likes to go 
there may see his tomb against the graveyard 
wall of Church Dykely. My Lady Chavasse 
arranged the funeral. The Earl of Derreston 
and a Major Chavasse were chief mourners, 
with other grand people. Duff ham's diary 
gives the particulars, but there's no space here 
to record them. Duffham was bidden to it ; 
and brought Arthur Layne in his hand to the 
Grange, in obedience to a private word of my 
lady's — for she knew the dead, if he could look 
out of his coffin, would like to see Arthur fol- 
lowing. So the procession started, a long line 
of it ; the village gazing in admiration as .it 
passed ; and Dobbs the blacksmith felt as proud 
as ever was the Grange peacock, when he saw 
Colonel Layne's little son in a coach, amidst the 
gentlefolks. Twere out ot tes^^cX. to >3cvfe 



A Tale of Sin. 159 

Colonel's bravery, you might be sure, he told a 
select audience : and p'r'aps a bit a-cause o' that 
back accident to the child hisself. And so, 
amidst pomps, and coaches and comments, 
Geoffry Chavasse was left in his last home. 



[Final matter s extracted from Dvffhams Diary 7\ 

It is eighteen months now since Sir Geoffry 
died ; and strange changes have taken place* 
The world is always witnessing such : you go 
up, and I go down. 

Admiral Chavasse came home and took 
possession of the Grange. My lady had pre- 
viously quitted it. She did not quit Church 
Dykely. It seemed indifferent to her where 
she settled down ; and Lady Rachel Chavasse 
had become used to my attendance, and wished 
to stay. There was a small white villa to let 
on this side the Grange, and they took it. 
Lady Rachel lies down more than ever ; when 
she goes out it is in a Bath-chair. Old John 
Noah draws it. The spinal complaint is con- 
firmed. I can do her no good; but I go in 
once or twice a week, and hold a gossip. She 
is very fractious : and what with one thing and 
another, my Lady Chavasse has a trying life of 
it. They keep three servants only ; no carriage 
— save the Bath-chair. What a chau^<e.l ^\\ax 
a change / 



i6o Johnny Ludlow^ 

If ever there was a disappointed woman in 
this world, one who feels the humiliation of 
her changed position keenly, whose whole life 
is a long living repentance, it is Lady Chavasse, 
The picture of what might have been is ever in 
her mind ; the reality of what is, lies around 
her. To judge by human fallibility, she has a 
long existence before her: not quite fifty yet, 
and her health rude : but in spirit she is a 
bowed, broken-down woman. 

The Grange is let. Sir Parker Chavasse 
could not reconcile himself to live in a rural 
district, and went back to his ship. At first he 
shut the Grange up ; now he has let it for a 
term to Mr. and Mrs. McAlpin, formerly of 
Calcutta. They live there with their children ; 
in as good style as ever the Chavasses did. 
Allan McAlpin has given up business, and 
spends his large fortune like the gentleman he 
is. She is Mary Layne's sister : a dainty and 
rather haughty woman. My lady looks out 
surreptitiously from a corner of her window as 
Mrs. McAlpin's carriage bowls along the road 
beyond the field. Colonel Layne's wife is also 
here just now, on a visit at the Grange ; her hus- 
band, Sir Richard Layne»K. C. B., has returned 
to his duties in India. The whole county calls 
upon them, and seems proud to do it, forgetting 
perhaps that they were but the daughters of my 
predecessor, Layne the apothecary. Yes! 
there are strange ups and do^tv^ m tVds 'world : 



A Tale of Sin. i6i 

and Mary Layne, so despised once, might not 
now be thought, even by my lady, so very 
unequal to Sir Geoffry Chavasse. 

She does not go in for grandeur. But the 
village would like to lay its hands under her 
feet. Never was there so good, so unselfish, so 
sweet and humble-minded a woman as Mary. 
In a temporary indisposition that attacked her 
a few weeks ago, Mr. Dobbs, struck with con- 
sternation, gave it as his opinion that Church 
Dykely " could afford to lose the whole biling 
of 'em, better nor her." Lady Chavasse has 
seen her merit at last ; and Mary's frequent 
presence in their house seems to bring light to 
the two lonely women. Arthur goes there too ; 
my lady loves him, curious though the fact may 
sound. An incident occurred the other evening. 

Miss Layne and Arthur were at tea there, 
when I happened to go in with some medicine. 
Mary had her work out, and sat talking in a 
low voice to Lady Rachel on her sofa; Lady 
Chavasse was watching Arthur, playing on the 
grass-plat. My lady rose up with a sudden cry : 

"Take care of the wasp, Sir Arthur! Sir 
Arthur r 

I saw what painful reverie she had been lost 
in. — the vision of that which might have been. 
It is apt to steal on her at sunset. Becoming 
conscious of the slip, she flushed slightly, and 
turned it off. Lady Rachel \^.w^e.^\ ^^ 
thought it a good joke. Mary "was taoxe. ^"?^^^>5^ 

VOL. II. w 



1 62 Johnny Ludlow. 

than usual that night, as I walked home by her 
and Arthur's side. 

Here ends the history. Mary Layne lives on 
in her home, training Arthur, helping the sick 
and suffering, keeping her face steadily turned 
to another world. Never a one is there amidst 
us so respected as that good, grave lady, who 
blighted her life in early womanhood, and who 
carries its trace on her sad, sweet countenance, 
and its never-ceasing shame on her sorrowing 
heart 

That's all at last. You must be glad of it. 
Old Duffham shall not lead me blindfold into 
one of his spun-out histories again. The 
trouble I've had to cut it down! What with 
the diaries and letters it was twice as long. 

And he called it a tale of sin. I, Johnny 
Ludlow, think it is more like a tale of suffering. 



II. 

A DAY OF PLEASURE. 

WE all liked Captain Sanker; a post-captain 
in the navy, ages since on half-pay; who 
came into Worcestershire, and brought a letter 
of introduction to the Squire. He was about a 
seventeenth cousin of the Sankers of Wales, and 
a twenty-seventh of Mrs. Todhetley. The cap- 
tain and his wife and family, six children, had lived 
in Ireland and the Channel Islands, and other 
cheap localities, making both ends of their in- 
come meet as well as they could — ^and nobody 
needs to be told how poor is the half-pay of naval 
officers, and what a fight and a struggle it is to 
rub along. At last, through the death of a rela- 
tive of Mrs. Sanker, they dropped into quite a 
fortune, and came over to settle at Worcester. 

A Dr. Teal, who had also recently come to 
Worcester, and was an old friend of Captain 
Sanker, proposed it to them. He wrote a flam- 
ing account of the pretty place that Worcester 
was, of the loveliness of the suttoMXv^vcv^ c.Qv\\\r- 
try; and of the great advatvtag^ \^^ ^cJ\^^^ 



164 Johnny Ludlow. 

school would be to the young Sankers, in giving 
them a free education if they could be got into it. 
The prospect of a free education for his boys took 
with the captain, and he lost no time in removing 
to Worcester, the Welsh Sankers giving him the 
introduction to us. We grew pretty intimate : 
calling on them when we went to Worcester for a 
day, and having them over to spend days with us. 

All the young Sankers were got into the 
college school by degrees, and became four of 
the forty King's scholars. At that time, it is 
long past now, the school was not thought much 
of, for the boys were taught little but the 
classics, so entrance was easy : Latin, Greek, 
bad writing, and the first rule in arithmetic : 
there it ended. Captain Sanker thought the 
education first-rate, and got them all enrolled : 
Frederick, Daniel, King, and Toby. As to 
Toby, I fancy his real name was Alfred, but I 
never heard him called by it. 

They had been in Worcester between one and 
two years, when Tod and I went over to them 
on a visit. The captain had come to spend a 
summer's day at Crabb Cot, and in his jolly, 
open-hearted fashion insisted on taking us two 
back. He was a short, stout man, with grey 
hair, and merry bright blue eyes all alight with 
smiles. The college school would be breaking^ 
up for its long holidays in a week or so, and it 
would have been better for us to have gone 
then; but the captain always ^\d\}cvm^soTvvca« 



A Day of Pleasure. 165 

pulse, and had no more forethought than young 
Toby. The holidays were taken late that year, 
and would be very long, because the college hall, 
which was the schoolroom, would be wanted 
for the music-meeting in September. 

The Sankers' was a funny household, and we 
pitched down amidst them without ceremony 
on either side. The house was at the corner of 
an open road, not very far from the cathedral. 
It was a commodious house as to size ; but 
all the rooms were in an everlasting litter, so 
that you could not get a chair to sit down 
in. The captain was good-humoured always, 
going in and out a hundred times a day. There 
seemed to be no fixed hours for meals, and 
sometimes no meals to eat : Mrs. Sanker would 
forget to order them. She was a little lady 
who went about as if she were dreaming, in a 
white petticoat and loose buff jacket ; or else 
she'd be sitting aloft in the turret, darning 
stockings and saying poetry. She was the least 
excitable person I ever knew ; all events, good 
and bad, she took as a matter of course : had 
the house caught fire she'd have looked on 
quietly — as Nero did when Rome was burning. 
Why they called the room the turret did not 
appear. It had a great high beam running 
through it on the floor : and Mrs. Sanker would 
sit on that, reading poetry to us or telling her 
dreams, her light hair all down. m 

At seven o'clock the boys \vaA.\.o\i^vsv^^^^-.l 



1 66 Johnny Ludlow. 

Being summer weather, that was no hardship* 
At nine they came in again with a rush, wild 
for breakfast. If Mrs. Sanker was not down to 
give it them, the four boys would set on and eat 
up the piles of bread and butter ; upon which 
Hetta Sanker would call them tigers, and go to 
the kitchen to tell the maids to cut more. 
Which was the cook of the two servants and 
which the housemaid, they did not themselves 
seem to know : both did the work indiscrimin- 
ately. Breakfast over, the boys went out again, 
Tod and I with them. At ten they must be in 
school. At one they came home to dinner ; it 
might be ready, or it might not : if not, they d 
go in and polish off anything cold that might be 
in the larder. It didn't seem to spoil their 
dinners. Afternoon school again until four 
o'clock ; and then at liberty for good. Tea was 
at any time; a scrambling kind of meal that 
stayed on the table for hours, and was taken 
just as we chanced to go in for it. Jam and 
boiled eggs would be on the table, with the loaf 
and butter ad libitum. Sometimes toast and 
dripping, and there used to be a scuffle for that. 
As to the dinner, when Mrs. Sanker forgot it, 
the servants would bring in a big dish of 
poached eggs, and we made it up with bread 
and cheese. Or Dan or Toby would be sent 
tearing off to High Street for a lot of penny 
pork-pies and apple-tarts. At night we had 
prayers, which the captain read. 



A Day of Pleasure. 167 

Now I daresay that to people accustomed to 
a domestic life like clock-work, this would have 
been unbearable. I thought it delightful ; 
as did Tod. It was like a perpetual picnic. 
But it was from one of these dinnerless episodes 
we found out that Captain Sanker had a temper. 
Generally speaking, he took disasters with 
equanimity. 

It was on a Thursday. We were to have had 
four ducks for dinner, which the captain had 
bought at market the day before. Fine big 
ducks that he was proud of: he carried them 
home himself, and brought them into the parlour 
to show us. On this day, Thursday, Tod and 
I had been inside the Town Hall in the morn- 
ing, listening to a trial before the magistrates — 
some fellow who had stolen his neighbour's 
clothes-props and cut them up for firewood. 
We got home just as the boys and their books 
did, as hungry as they were. There was no 
cloth laid, and Fred shouted out for Biddy, ask- 
ing whether we were to dine to-day or to-morrow. 
Biddy heard, and came rushing in with the cloth 
and knife-tray. 

" What's for dinner besides the four ducks ?" 
asked Dan. " Any pudding ? Have you put 
plenty of stuffing ?" 

" Indeed then, and I don't think there's much 
for dinner," replied Biddy. ** I've been in the 
turret with the missis all the morning, helping 
to stufi a pillow." 



I 



1 68 Johnny Ludlow. 

She laid the cloth, and Mrs. Sanker came 
mooning down in the short white petticoat and 
buff jacket, darning a sock of Dan's. The 
dreadful truth came out — busy over beds and 
pillows, nobody had thought of dinner, and the 
ducks were hanging in the larder, uncooked. 
Before speechless tongues could find words. 
Captain Sanker came in, bringing his friend Dr. 
Teal to taste the ducks. All the Teals were as 
intimate at the house as we were. Years before, 
when the captain was a middy, Dr. Teal had 
been assistant-surgeon on the same ship. 

" They've got a cold dinner at Teal's to-day," 
said the captain to his wife, as she was shaking 
hands with the doctor, '^ so he is come to share 
ours. Fine ducks they are, Teal !" 

Then the news had to be told. The ducks 
were not cooked : dinner altogether had been 
forgotten. 

I saw Captain Sanker's face turn white — quite 
white ; but he did not say a word. Dr. Teal 
— a scientific Scotchman, who walked with his 
nose in the air and his spectacles turned to the 
skies, as if always looking for a lunar rainbow 
— made the best of it. Laughing, he said he 
would come in another day, and went out 

Then it began. Captain Sanker gave vent 
to passion in a way that startled me, and made 
Tod stare. I don't believe he knew for a few 
moments what he was doing or saying. Nora, 
the other servant — both girls had corae with 



A Day of Pleasure. 1 69 

them from Ireland, and were as thoughtless as 
their mistress — came in with a dish of some 
hastily concocted pudding : a kind of batter. 
The captain, who had still his stick in his hand, 
lifted it, and spattered the pudding all about 
the cloth. Then he stamped out of the house 
with a bang. 

" Sit down, dears," said Mrs. Sanker, not at 
all moved, as she began to collect the pudding 
with a spoon. " Bring in the cheese, Nora, and 
do some eggs. Here's a corner seat for you, 
Johnny ; can you squeeze in ? The captain will 
have his dinner with the Teals, no doubt. He 
has been tasting the doctor s port wine, I think ; 
or he'd not have been so put up." 

And somehow we gathered, then or later, that 
the captain was easy as an old glove at all times 
and over all crosses, unless he was a little " put 
up" by artificial help. He told us himself one 
day (not, of course, alluding to anything of this) 
that he had had naturally an awful temper, 
would go into passions of absolute madness for a 
minute or two, when he was younger ; but that 
he had by much self-restraint chiefly if not quite 
subdued it. It was true ; and the temper never 
need be feared now unless he took any- 
thing to excite him. Dan had the same temper; 
but without the good-nature. And they said 
Hetta had ; but we saw nothing of it in her. 
Hetta was eighteen, a nice-looking girl who w^.^ 
governess to little Ruth, or preX.etvd^^\.o\i^ \ Vox. 



lyo Johnny Ludlow. 

Ruth would manage to escape her lessons five 
days in the week. It was all the same to Mrs. 
Sanker whether she did them or whether she 
didn't. 

At the time of this visit of ours to Worcester, 
the college school was in a ferment. Between 
the Cathedral and St. Peter's Church was situ- 
ated a poor, back district called Frog Lane. 
It had been re-christened Diglis Street, but was 
mostly called by the old name still. Crowded 
dwellings, narrow streets, noise and dirt — that's 
how the place struck me. The inhabitants were 
chiefly workmen belonging to the glove and 
china manufactories of the town. In this district 
was the parish school, always filled with boys, 
sons of the working-men, and under the super- 
intendence of Mr. Jones, the portly parish clerk. 
Now, there was wont to spring up from time to 
time a tide of animosity between these boys and 
the boys of the college school. Captain Sanker 
said it was the fault of the college boys : had 
they let the St Peter's boys alone, St Peter's 
boys would never have presumed to interfere 
with them.: but the college boys could be down- 
right contemptuous and overbearing when they 
pleased. They scornfully called the St Peter's 
boys the Frogs ; " charity boys ;" and the Frogs 
retorted by calling them the College Caws — ^after 
the rooks that had their homes in the old trees 
of the college green and kept up a perpetual 
cawing. The animosity getver^Wj etvA^d \tv 3^ 



A Day of Pleasure. 171 

grand battle; and then hostilities would be 
dropped for months, perhaps years. One of 
these quarrels was going on while we were at 
Worcester ; it had kept both schools in a fer- 
ment for some weeks, and there was every sign 
of a culminating fight. Of course we went in, 
Jieart and soul, with the King's scholars : but 
the boys on both sides held a code of honour — 
if you can call it so — that no stranger must take 
part in the engagements. The college boys 
were only forty, all told ; the Frogs seemed to 
number four times as many.. 

Skirmishes took place daily — the scene of 
them being the top of Edgar Street St. Peter's 
boys (let out of school at twelve, whereas the 
others did not get out till one) would collect in 
the narrow neck of their district opening on 
Edgar Street, and wait for the enemy. As soon 
as the college boys' steps were heard racing 
under the dark gateway of Edgar Tower, hisses 
and groans began. ** Caw, caw, caw ! Hiss, 
hiss, hiss ! How's your Latin to-day ? — what 
birchings has you had 1 Calls yourselves gents 
does you, you College Caws } You daredn't 
come on fair, and fight it out with us, you Caws. 
Caw, caw, caw 1" Sometimes the college boys 
would pass on, only calling back their contemp- 
tuous retorts; sometimes they'd halt, and a 
fierce storm of abuse would be interchanged, to 
the edification of Edgar Street ia getv^T^l -sccA. 
the clerks in Mr. Clifton s Re^v^U^ OSSvcfc^ 



172 Johnny Ludlow. 

*' You beggarly Frogs ! We don't care to soil 
our hands with you ! Had you been gentlemen, 
we'd have polished you off long ago, and sent 
you into next week. Croak, Frogs ! Croak 1" 
Not a third of the college boys need have taken 
Edgar Tower on their way home ; through the 
cloisters and out by St. Michael's churchyard 
would have been their direct way ; but they 
chose to meet the Frogs. Once in a way there'd 
be a single combat ; but as a rule nothing came 
of it but the abuse. When that was exhausted, 
each lot would rush home their separate ways : 
the Frogs back down Frog Lane ; the others 
up the steps, or onwards down Edgar Street, as 
their road might lie, and remain apart till the 
same hour next day. 

I have not said much yet about King Sanker. 
He was lame : something was wrong with his 
knee. Gatherings would come in it, and then 
he'd be in bed for weeks together. He was 
nearly thirteen then ; next to Dan : and Dan 
was over fourteen. King was a nice little 
fellow, with mild eyes as blue as the captain's : 
Fred would order him to keep "out of the 
ruck " in the skirmishes with the Frogs, and he 
mostly did. If it came to a fight, you see. King 
might have been hurt; he had no fighting in 
him, was frightened at it, and he could not run 
much. King was just like his mother in ideas : 
he would tell us his dreams as she did, and 
recite pieces of poetry a m\\e \otv^- B^xv zxvd 



A Day of Pleasure. 173. 

King slept together in the room next to ours ; 
it was in the garret, close to the turret-room. 
King would keep us awake singing ; sometimes 
chants, sometimes hymns, sometimes songs. 
They'd have let him try for the choir, but the 
head-master of the college school thought his 
knee would not do for it. 

It was Saturday, and a pouring wet afternoon. 
Our visit was drawing to an end : on the 
following Wednesday we should bid the Sankers 
good-bye. Captain Sanker, always trying to 
find out ways of making folks happy, had de- 
vised a day of pleasure for the last day of our 
stay, Tuesday. We were to go to Malvern ; a 
whole lot of us : ourselves, and the Teals, and 
the Squire, and Mrs. Todhetley, and eat our 
dinner on the hill. It was so settled ; and the 
arrangements were planned and made. 

But this was yet but Saturday. We dined at 
twelve : whether for anybody's convenience or 
that the servants made a mistake in an hour, I 
don't remember. It happened to be a saint's 
day, so the boys had no school ; and, being wet, 
came home after morning service in the Cathe- 
dral. After a jolly dinner of peas and bacon 
and pancakes, we looked at the skies for a bit, 
and then (all but Fred and Hetta) went up to 
the turret-room. Dan said the rain had come 
to spite us ; for the whole school had meant to 
race to Berwick's Bridge after afternooa sexMVc^ 
and hold a mock review in t\ve iv^ds xJcv^'t^- ^"^ 



1 74 Johnny Ludlow. 

was coming down in torrents, peppering the 
roof and the windows. Mrs. Sanker sat in the 
middle of the old beam, mending one of Toby's 
shirts, '* Lalla Rookh " open on her knee, out of 
which she was singing softly; the floor was 
strewed with patches, and scissors, and tapes, 
and the combs were out of one side of her 
hair. 

" Read it out loud to us, mamma," cried King. 

" I can't spare time to read. King," she said. 
^' Look here " — holding out the work, all rags 
and tatters. " If I don't mend this, Toby won't 
have a shirt to put on to-morrow." 

" I shan't mind about that," said Toby. 

'^ Oh, but, dear, I don't think you could go 
without a shirt. Has anybody seen my cotton ?" 

" Then say over something to us that you 
know, mamma," returned King, as Toby found 
the cotton. 

^^ Very well. I can do that, and work too. 
Sit down all of you." 

We sat down. King and Toby on the floor 
before her, the rest of us on the beam on either 
side her. Dan, who did not care for poetrj'', 
got some Brazil nuts out of his pocket and 
cracked them while he listened. 

Mrs. Sanker might as well have read *' Lalla 

Rookh." She began to recite " The Friar of 

Orders Grey." But what with gazing up at the 

sky through the rain to give it due emphasis, 

and shaking her head at pat\veUc ^^x\s> ^^ 



A Day of Pleasure. 175 

sewing did not get on. She had finished the 
verse — 

" Weep no more, lady, weep no more, 
Thy sonrow is in vain ; 
For violets, plucked, the sweetest showers 
Will ne'er make grow again," 

when King surprised us by bursting into tears. 
But as Mrs. Sanker took no notice, I supposed 
it was nothing unusual. 

" You young donkey !*' cried Dan, when the 
poem was finished. " You'll never be a man, 
King." 

" It is such a nice verse, Dan/* replied young 
King, meekly. " I whisper it over sometimes 
to myself in bed. Mamma, won't you say the 
^ Barber's Ghost' 1 Johnny Ludlow would like 
to hear that, I know." 

We had the " Barber s Ghost," which was 
humorous, and we had other things. After 
that, Mrs. Sanker told a dreadful story about a 
real ghost, one that she said haunted her family, 
and another of a murder that was discovered by 
a dream. Some of the young Sankers were 
the oddest mixtures of timidity and bravery — 
personally brave in fighting; frightfully timid 
as to being alone in the dark — and I no longer 
wondered at it if she had brought them up on 
these ghostly dishes. 

" I should not like to have dreams that would 
tell me of murders," said King, thoughtCwlV^ . 
" But I do dream very strange dt^^xa^ ^ctkv^- 



176 Johnny Ludlow. 

times. When I awake, I lie and wonder what 
they mean. Once I dreamt I saw Heaven — 
didn't I, mamma ? It was so beautiful." 

" Ay ; my family have always been dreamers/* 
replied Mrs. Sanker. 

Thus, what with ghosts and poetry and talk- 
ing, the afternoon wore on unconsciously. Dan 
suddenly started up with a shout : 

" By Jove !" 

The sun had come out. Come out, and we 
had never noticed it. It was shining as brightly 
as could be on the slates of all the houses. The 
rain had ceased. 

" I say, we shall have the review yet !" cried 
Dan. " And, by Jupiter, that's the college bell f 
Make a rush, you fellows, or you'll be marked 
late. There's three o'clock striking." 

The King's scholars thought it a great shame 
that they should have to attend prayers in the 
Cathedral morning and afternoon on saints' 
days, instead of wholly benefiting by the holi- 
day. They had to do it, however. The three 
went flying out towards the Cathedral, and I 
gave King my arm to help him after them. Tod 
and I — intending to take part in the review at 
Berwick's Bridge — went to college also, and sat 
behind the surpliced King's scholars on the 
decani side, in the stalls next to the chanter. 

But for a bit of mud, you'd hardly have 
thought there had been any rain when we got 
out again ; and the sun was glowing in the blue 



A Day of Pleasure. 177 

sky. Not a single fellow was absent : even King 
limped along. We took the way by the Severn, 
past the boat-house at the end of thp college 
boundaries, and went leisurely along the towing- 
path, intending to get into the fields beyond 
Diglis Wharf, and so onwards. 

I don't believe there was a thought in any- 
body's mind that afternoon of the enemy. The 
talk — and a good hub-bub it was — turned wholly 
upon soldiers and reviews. A regular review of 
the Worcestershire militia took place once a year 
on Kempsey Ham, and some of the boys' heads 
got a trifle turned with it. They were envying 
Lord Ward, now, as they went along ; saying 
they should like to be him, and look as well as 
he did, and sit his horse as proudly. 

"Of course he's proud," squeaked out the 
biggest Teal, whose voice was uncertain. 
" Think of his money I — and his horses ! — and 
see how good-looking he is ! If Lord Ward has 
not a right to be proud, I'd like to know who has. 
Why, he — oh, by George ! I say, look here 1" 

Turning into the first field, we found we had 
turned into a* company of Frogs. All the whole 
lot, it seemed. Caws and Croaks and hoots and 
groans from either side rose at once on the air. 
Which army commenced the hostilities, I couldn't 
tell ; the one was as eager for it as the other ; 
and in two minutes the battle had begun— begun 
in earnest. Up dashed the senior boy. 

" Look here," said he to me and Tod; ''you. 

VOL. II. \^ 



178 Johnny Ludlow. 

understand our rules. You must neither of 
you attempt to meddle in this. Stay and look 
on if you please ; but keep at a sufficient distance 
where it may be seen that you are simply 
spectators. These beggars shan't have it to say 
that we were helped." 

He dashed back again. Tod ground his teeth 
with the effort it took to keep himself from going 
in to pummel some of the Frogs. Being upon 
honour, he had to refrain ; and he did it somehow. 

The Frogs had the blazing sun in their eyes ; 
our side had it at their backs — which was 
against the Frogs. There were no weapons of 
any sort ; only arms and hands. It looked like 
the scrimmage of an Irish row. Sometimes there 
was closing-in, and fighting hand to hand, head 
to head ; sometimes the forces were drawn back 
again, each to its respective ground. During 
the first of these interludes, just as the sides 
were preparing to charge, a big Frog, with 
broad, awkward shoulders, a red, rugged face, 
and a bleeding nose, came dashing forward 
alone into the ranks of the college boys, caught 
up poor lame helpless King Sanker, bore him 
bravely right through, and put him down in 
safety beyond, in spite of the blows freely 
showered upon him. Not a soul on our side 
had thought of King ; and the college boys were 
too excited to see what the big Frog was about, 
or they'd perhaps have granted him grace to pass 
unmolested. King sat dovjtv ow \>cife\^^\. ^^^'^ 



A Day of Pleasure. 179 

for a bit, and gazed about him like a chap be- 
wildered. Seeing me and Tod, he came limping 
round to us. 

" It was good-natured of that big Frog, 
wasn't it, Johnny Ludlow ?" 

" Very. He'd make a brave soldier. I mean 
a real soldier." 

" Perhaps I should have been killed, but for 
him. I was frightened, you see ; and there was 
no way out. I couldn't have kept on my legs 
a minute longer." 

The battle raged. The cawing and the croak- 
ing, that had been kept up like an array of 
trumpets, fell off as the fighting waxed hotter. 
The work grew too fierce and real for tongue 
abuse. We could hear the blows dealt on the 
upturned faces. King, who had a natural horror 
of fighting, trembled inwardly from head to foot, 
and hid his face behind me. Tod was dancing 
with excitement, flinging his closed fists outward 
in imaginary battle, and roaring out like a dragon. 

I can't say who would have won had they been 
left alone. Probably the Frogs, for there were 
a great many more of them. But on the other 
hand, none of them were so old as some of the 
college boys. When the fight was at the 
thickest, we heard a sudden shout from a bass, 
gruff, authoritative voice: "Now then, boys, 
how dare you 1" and saw a big, portly gentleman 
in black clothes and a white necktie^ ai^^^^x V^^- 
hind the Frogs, with a stout sUcVl vtv \vv^ V*^^^- 

\2 — ^ 



i3o Johnny Ludlow. 

It was Clerk Jones, their master. His pre- 
sence and his voice acted like magic. Not a 
Frog of them all but dropped his blows and his 
rage. The college boys had to drop theirs, as 
the enemy receded. Clerk Jones put himself 
between the two lots of combatants. 

The way he went on at both sides was some- 
thing good to hear. Shaking his stick at his 
own boys, they turned tail softly, and then 
rushed away through the mud like wild horses, 
not waiting to hear the close : so the college 
boys got the pepper intended for the lot He 
vowed and declared by the stick that was in 
his hand — and he had the greatest mind, he in- 
terrupted himself to say, to put it about /^^> backs 
— that if ever they molested his boys again, or 
another quarrel was got up, he would appeal 
publicly to the dean and chapter. If one of the 
college boys made a move in future to so much 
as cast an insulting look towards a boy in 
St. Peter's school, that boy should go before the 
dean ; and it would not be his fault (the clerk's) 
if he was not expelled the Cathedral. He would 
take care, and precious good care, that his boys 
should preserve civility henceforth ; and it was 
no great favour to expect that the college boys 
would. For his part, he should feel ashamed 
in their places to oppress lads in an inferior class 
of life to themselves ; and he should make it his 
business before he slept to see the head-master 
of the college school, atvd le^otv \Js\\^ ^x^'s.^wt 



A Day of Pleasure. 1 8 1 

disgraceful scene to him : the head-master could 
deal with it as he pleased, 

Mr. Jones went off, flourishing his stick ; and 
our side began to sum up its damages : closed 
eyes, scratched faces, swollen noses, and torn 
clothes. Dan Sanker's nose was as big as a beer 
barrel, and his shirt-front hung in ribbons. 
Fred's eyes were black. Toby's jacket had a 
sleeve slit up, and one of his boots had dis- 
appeared for good. 

The spectacle we made, going home down 
the Gloucester Road, could not be easily for- 
gotten. Folks collected on the pavement, and 
came to the windows and doors to see the sight. 
It was like an army of soldiers returning froni 
battle. Bleeding faces, green eyes, clothes 
tattered and bespattered with mud. Farmers 
going back from market drew up their gigs to 
the roadside, to stare at us while we passed. 
One little girl, in a pony-chaise, wedged be- 
tween a fat old lady in a red shawl, and a gen- 
tleman in top boots, was frightened nearly into 
fits. She shrieked and cried, till you might 
have heard her up at Mr. Allies's ; and the old 
lady could not pacify her. The captain was 
out when we got in : and Mrs. Sanker took it 
with all with her usual apathy, only saying we had 
better have come straight home from college to 
hear some more poetry. 

An awful fuss was made by the Vv^'aA-xwasX^t. 
'Especially as the boys had to a^^^M ow^n^^^*^ 



1 82 Johnvy Ludlow. 

at the Cathedral services. Damages were visi- 
ble on many of them ; and their white surplices 
only served to show the faces off the more. 
The chorister who took the solo in the after- 
noon anthem was decorated with cuttings of 
sticking plaster ; he looked like a tattooed young 
Indian. 

The school broke up on the Monday : and on 
that day Mr. and Mrs. Todhetley drove into 
Worcester, and put up at the Star and Garter. 
They came to us in the afternoon, as had been 
agreed upon ; dinner being ordered by Captain 
Sanker for five o'clock. It was rather a pro- 
fuse dinner ; fish and meat and pies and dessert, 
but quite a scramble of confusion : which none 
of the Sankers seemed to notice or to mind, 

** Johnny dear, is it always like this ?" Mrs. 
Todhetley could not help asking me, in a 
whisper. ** I should be in a lunatic asylum in 
a week." 

We started for Malvern on Tuesday at eleven 
o'clock. The Squire drove Bob and Blister in 
his high carriage : Dr. Teal, Captain Sanker, 
and Fred sitting with him. There was no rail- 
road then. The ladies and the girls crammed 
themselves into a post-carriage from the Star, 
and a big waggonette was lent by some friend 
of Dr. Teal for the rest. The boys were losing 
the signs of their damages ; nothing being very 
conspicuons now but Dan's nose. It refused to 
go down at all in size, arvdm coVowt ^^s^Wv^xet 



A Day of Pleasure. 183 

than a rainbow. The Teals kept laughing at it, 
which made Dan savage ; once he burst out in 
a passion, wishing all the Frogs were shot. 

I remember that drive still. John Teal and 
I sat on the box of the post-carriage, the post- 
boy riding his horses. I remember the different 
features of the road as we passed them — not 
but that I knew them well before ; I remember 
the laden orchards, and the sweet scent of the 
bean fields, in flower then. Over the bridge 
from Worcester went we, up the New Road 
and through St. John's, and then into the open 
country ; past Lower Wick, where Mrs. Sher- 
wood lived, and on to Powick across its bridge. 
I remember that a hearse and three mourning 
coaches stood before the Lion, the men refresh- 
ing themselves with drink; and we wondered 
who was being buried that day. Down that 
steep and awkward hill next, where so many 
accidents occurred before it was altered, and so 
on to the Link ; the glorious hills always before 
us from the turning where they had first burst 
into view; their clumps of gorse and broom, 
their paths and their sheep-tracks growing gra- 
dually plainer to the sight the nearer we drew. 
The light and the shade cast by the sun swept 
over them perpetually, a landscape ever chang- 
ing ; the white houses of the village, nestling 
amid their dark foliage, looked fair for the eye 
to rest upon. Youth, as we all ^^1 Xo V^^^sx^ 
when it has g^one by, lends a cVvaxrcv x^'ax. \A^^ 



184 Johnny Ludlozv, 

life cannot know : but never a scene that I have 
seen since, abroad or at home, lies on my me- 
mory with half the beauty as does that old 
approach to Malvern. Turning round to the 
left at the top of the Link, we drove into Great 
Malvern. 

The carriages were left at the Crown. An 
old pony was chartered for some of the pro- 
visions, and we boys carried the rest. The 
people at St. Ann's Well had been written to, 
and the room behind the well was in readiness 
for us. Once the baskets were deposited there, 
we were at liberty till dinner-time, and went on 
up the hill. Turning a corner which had hidden 
the upper landscape from view, we came upon 
Dan Sanker, who had got on first. He was 
standing to confront us, his face big with excite- 
ment, his nose all afire. 

** If you'll believe me, those cursed Frogs are 
here !" 

In resentful consternation — for the Frogs 
seemed to have no business to be at Malvern — 
we rushed on, turned another corner, and so 
brought ourselves into a wide expanse of upper 
prospect. Sure enough ! About a hundred of 
the Frogs in their Sunday clothes were trooping 
down the hill. They had got the start of us in 
arriving at Malvern, and had been to the top 
already. 

" rU — be — jiggered !'* cried Dan, savagely. 
' WhBX a horrid lot they are\ \-ooV ^\. NJcudx: 



A Day of Pleasure. 185 

sneaking tail-coats. Wouldn't I like to pitch 
into them 1*' 

The college school wore the Eton jacket. 
Those preposterous coats, the tails docked to 
the size of the boys, did not improve the appear- 
ance of the Frogs. But as to pitching-in, 
Dan did not dare to do it after what had passed. 
It was his nose that made him so resentful. 

" I desire that you will behave as gentle- 
men," said Captain Sanker, who was behind 
with the Squire, and bid us halt. " Those poor 
boys are here, I see ; but they will not, I am 
sure, molest you, neither must you molest them. 
Civility costs nothing, remember. What are you 
looking so cross for, Dan ?" 

" Oh, well, papa, it's like their impudence, to 
come here to-day !" muttered Dan. 

The captain laughed. *'They may say it's 
like yours, to come, Dan : they were here first. 
Go on, lads, and don't forget yourselves." 

Tod's whistle below was heard just then ; and 
Dan, not caring to show his nose to the enemy, 
responded, and galloped back. We went on. 
The paths there are narrow, you know, and we 
looked to have all the string of Frogs sweeping 
past us, their coats brushing our jackets. But 
— perhaps not caring to meet us any more than 
we cared to meet them— most of them broke off 
on a detour down the steep of the hill, and so 
avoided us. About half-a-dozea cattv^ otv. On\^ 
of them was a big-shoL\ldered,avjVL^3LtdL,t^^A.'^^^^ | 



1 86 Johtny Ludlow. . 

boy, taller than the rest of them and not unlike 
a real frog* ; he walked with his cap in his hand, 
and his brown hair stood on end like a porcu- 
pine's. Indisputably ugly was he, with a mouth 
as wide as a frying-pan ; but it was a pleasant 
and honest face, for all that. King suddenly 
darted to him as he was passing, and pulled him 
towards Captain Sanker, in excitement. 

" Papa, this is the one I told you of ; the one 
who saved me and didn't mind the blows he 
got in doing it. I should have been knocked 
down, and my knee trampled on, but for 
him." 

Out went Captain Sanker's hand to shake 
the boy's. He did it heartily. As to the Frog, 
he blushed redder than before with modesty. 

** You are a brave lad, and I thank you 
heartily," said the captain, wringing his hand 
as though he'd wring it off. ** You do honour 
to yourself, whoever you may be. There was 
not one of his own companions to think of him, 
and save him, and you did it in the midst of 
dangers. Thank you, my lad." 

The captain slid half-a-crown into his hand, 
telling him to get some Malvern cakes. The boy 
stood back for us to go by. I was the last, and 
he spoke as if he knew me. 

" Good-day, Master Johnny." 
•. Why, who was he ? — And, now I came to 
look at his freckled face, it seemed quite familiar. 
His great wide mouth brou^Vvt rcv^ t^ta^tcfct^^^.. 



A Day of Pleasure, 187 

'* Why it's Mark Ferrar ! I didn't know you at 
first, Mark." 

*' We've come over here for the day in two 
vans/' said Mark, putting his grey cap on. 
*' Eighty of the biggest of us ; the rest are to 
come to-morrow. Some gent that's visiting at 
St Peter's parsonage has gave us the treat, sir." 

" All right, Mark. I'm glad you thought of 
King Sanker on Saturday." 

Ferrar touched his cap, and went vaulting 
down after his comrades. He was related to 
Daniel Ferrar, the Squire's bailiff, of whom you 
have heard before, poor fellow, and also to the 
Batleys of South Crabb. He used to come 
over to Crabb, that's where I had seen him. 

Some donkeys came running down the hill, 
their white cloths flying. Captain Sanker 
stopped one and put King on him — for King 
was tired already. We soon got to the top 
then, and to Lady Harcourt's Tower. Oh 
it was a glorious day ! The great wide pros- 
pect around shone out in all its beauty. The 
vale of Herefordshire on the one side with 
its rural plains and woods basked in the sun- 
shine, its crops of ruddy pears and apples giving 
token of the perry and cider to come ; on the 
other side rose the more diversified landscape 
that has been so much told and talked of. Over 
the green meadows and the ripening corn-fields 
lay Worcester itself: the Cathedta.1 ^Vvssvi^vwj, 
out well, and the summit oi vV^ V\^ Okmx^- ^ 



1 88 Johnny Ludlow. 

spire of St. Andrew's catching a glint of the 
sunlight. Hills caught the eye wherever it 
turned : Bredon Hill, Abberleigh Hills, the Old 
Hills; homesteads lay amid their lands, half 
hidden by their rick-yards and their clustering 
trees ; cattle and sheep browsed on the grass or 
lay in the shade to shelter themselves from the 
mid-day sun. To the right, on the verge of 
the horizon, far, far away, might be caught a 
glimpse of something that sparkled like a bed of 
stars — the Bristol Channel. It is not often you 
can discern that from Malvern, but this day that 
I am telling of was one of the clearest ever seen 
there ; the atmosphere looking quite rarefied in 
spite of the sunlight. 

King s donkey regaled himself with morsels 
of herbage, the donkey-boy lay stretched beside 
him, and we boys raced about. When an hour 
or two had passed, and we were hotter than fire 
and more hungry than hunters, we bethought 
ourselves of dinner. King got on his donkey 
again, and the rest of us whipped him up. When 
half-way down we saw Dr. Teal gesticulating 
and shouting, telling us to come on and not keep 
dinner waiting longer. 

We had it in the room behind the well. It 
was a squeeze to sit round the table. Cold 
meats, and salad, and pastry, and all sorts of 
good things. Dan was next to me ; he said he 
could hardly eat for thirst, and kept drinking 
away at the bottled ale. 



A Day of Pleasure. 189 

" My dear," said Mrs. Todhetley to him by- 
and-by, ** don't you think you had better drink 
some water instead — or lemonade ? This bottled 
ale is very strong/' 

" I am afraid it is,** said Dan. ** I'll go in 
for the tarts now." 

The room was stuffy ; and after dinner a table 
was carried out to a sheltered place near the 
well : not much better than a little ledge of a 
path, but where we could not be overlooked, 
and should be quite out of the way of the hill- 
climbers. The bank rose perpendicularly above 
us, banks descended beneath to goodness knew 
where ; there we sat at dessert, all sheltered. I 
think dark trees and shrubs overshaded us ; but 
I am not altogether sure. 

How it came about, I hardly know : but 
something was brought up about King's store 
of ballads, and he was asked to give us his 
favourite one, *' Lord Bateman," for the benefit 
of the company. He turned very shy, but 
Captain Sanker told him not to be silly : and 
after going white and red for a bit, he began. 
Perhaps the reader would like to hear it. I 
never repeat it to myself, no, nor even a verse 
of it, but poor King Sanker comes before me 
just as I saw him that day, his back to the 
ravine below, his eyes looking at nothing, his 
thin hands nervously twisting some paper 
about that had covered the basket o^ x-^^'sji- 
berries. 



190 Johnny Ludlow. 

Lord Bateman was a noble lord, 

A noble lord of high degree : 
He shipped himself on board a ship ; 

Some foreign country he would see. 

He sailed east, he sailed west, 

Until he came unto Turkey, 
Where he was taken, and put in prison, 

Until his life was quite weary. 

In this prison there grew a tree ; 

It grew so very stout and strong : 
And he was chained by the middle 

Until his life was almost gone. 

The Turk, he had one only daughter, 
The fairest creature eye e'er did see : 

She stole the keys of her father's prison. 
And said she'd set Lord Bateman free. 

" Have you got houses ? — have you got lands ? — 
Or does Northumberland belong to thee ? 

And what would you give to the fair young lady 
Who out of prison would set you free ?" 

" Oh, IVe got houses, and I've got lands, 
And half Northumberland belongs to me ; 

And I'd give it all to the fair young lady 
That out of prison would set me free." 

Then she took him to her father's palace. 
And gave to him the best of wine ; 

And every health that she drank to him 
Was " I wish, Lord Bateman, you were mine. 

** For seven long years I'll make a vow ; 

And seven long years I'll keep it strong : 
If you will wed no other woman, 

I will wed no other man." 

Then she took him to her father's harbour, 

And gave to him a ship of fame : 
** Farewell, farewell to you, Lord Bateman ; 

I fear I never shall see you again.'^ 



A Day of Pleasure. 1 9 1 

When seven long years were gone and past, 

And fourteen days, well known to me ; 
She packed up her gay gold and clothing, 

And said Lord Bateman she would see. 

When she came to Lord Bateman's castle, 

So boldly there she rang the bell : 
" Who's there, who's there," cried the young proud porter; 

" Who's there, who's there unto me tell ?" 

** Oh, is this Lord Bateman's castle ? 

And is his lordship here within ?" 
" Oh yes, oh yes," cried the young proud porter : 

" He has just now taken his young bride in." 

" Tell him to send me a slice of cake. 

And a bottle of the best of wine ; 
And not to forget the fair young lady 

That did release him when close confined." 

Away, away went this young proud porter. 

Away, away, away went he ; 
Until he came unto Lord Bateman, 

When on his bended knees fell he. 

" What news, what news, my young porter ; 

What news, what news have you brought unto me ?" 
" Oh, there is the fairest of all young ladies 

That ever my two eyes did see. 

" She has got rings on every finger, 
• And on one of them she has got three ; 
And she has as much gold round her middle 
As would buy Northumberland of thee. 

" She tells you to send her a slice of cake. 

And a bottle of the best of wine ; 
And not to forget the fair young lady 

That did release you when close confined.'' 

Lord Bateman in a passion flew ; 

He broke his sword in splinters three ; 
" I'll give all my father's wealth and riches 

Now if Sophia has crossed the sea." 

Then up spoke his young bride's mother — 

Who never was heard to speak so free : ^fk 

" Don't you forget my only daugYvlex, V 

Although Sophia has crossed the ^e^."" " 



192 Johnny Ltidlow, 

" I own I've made a bride of your daughter : 
She's none the better nor worse for me : 

She came to me on a horse and saddle, 
And she may go back in a carriage and three." 

Then another marriage was prepared, 

With both their hearts so full of glee : 
" I'll range no more to foreign countries 

Since my Sophia has crossed the sea." 

King stopped, just as shyly as he had begun. 
Some laughed, others applauded him ; and the 
Squire told us that the first time he had ever 
heard " Lord Bateman " was in Scouton*s show, 
on Worcester race-course, many a year ago. 

After that, we broke up. I and some of the 
boys climbed up straight to Lady Harcourt's 
Tower again. A few Frogs were about the 
hills, but they did not come in contact with us. 
When we got back to St. Ann's the tea was 
ready in the room. 

"And I wish to goodness they'd have it," 
cried Dan, '* for I'm as thirsty as a fish. Tve 
been asleep out there all the while on the bench 
in the sun. Can't we have tea, mother T' 

" As soon as ever the gentlemen come back," 
spoke up Mrs. Teal, who seemed to like order. 
"They went down to look at the Abbey." 

They were coming up then, puffing over the 
walk ; Tod and Fred Sanker with them. We 
sat down to tea ; and it was half over when 
the two young Sankers, King and Toby, were 
missed. 

" Tiresome monkeys I" cried the captain. " I 
never came over here wilVv a i^atX.^ ^^\.,\iM\. >«^ 



A Day of Pleasure. 193 

had to spend the last hour or two hunting some 
of them up. Well, Til not bother myself over 
it : they shall find their way home as they can." 
Toby ran in presently. He had only been 
about the hills he said, and had not seen King. 
'* I dare say King's still in the place where we 
had dessert/' said Hetta Sanker, just then 
thinking of it. " He stayed behind us all, say- 
ing he was tired. You boys can go and see." 

I and Jim Teal ran off together. King was 
not there. One of the women at the well said 
that when she went out for the chairs and 
things, just before tea-time, nobody was there. 

" Oh, he'll turn up presently," said the captain. 
And we went on with our tea, and forgot him. 

It was twilight when we got down to the village 
to start for home. Tlie Squire set off first : the 
same party with him as in the morning, except 
that Mrs. Teal took her husband's place. When 
they were bringing out the post-carriage, King 
was again thought of. 

*' He has stayed somewhere singing to him- 
self," said Mrs. Sanker. 

We went off in different directions, shouting 
our throats hoarse. Up as far as St. Ann's, and 
along the hill underneath, and in all the corners of 
the village : no King. It was getting strange. 

'* I should hope none of those impudent Frogs 
have made off with him !" cried Toby Sanker. 

*' They are capable of anything, mind y^vi" 
added Dan. 

VOL. II. I'i 



194 Johnny Ludlow. 

One vanload of Frogs had started ; the other 
was getting ready to start. The boys, gaping 
and listening about, saw and heard all our con- 
sternation at the dilemma we were in. Mrs, 
Todhetley, who did not understand the state of 
social politics, as between them and the collie 
school, turned and inquired whether they had 
seen King. 

" A delicate lad, who walks lame," she ex- 
plained. '* We think he must have fallen asleep 
somewhere on the hill : and we cannot start 
without him/' 

The Frogs showed themselves good-natured ; 
and went tearing up towards the hill to look for 
King. In passing the Unicorn, a pleasure-party 
of young men and women, carrying their empty 
provision-baskets, came running downwards,, 
saying that they had heard groaning under a part 
of the hill — and described where. I seemed to 
catch the right place, as if by instinct, and was up 
there first. King was lying there ; not groaning 
then, but senseless or dead. 

Looking upwards to note the position, we 
thought he must have fallen down from the 
place where we had sat at dessert. Hetta 
Sanker said she had left him there by himself^ 
to rest. 

'* He must have dropped asleep, and fallen 
down," cried Dr. Teal. 

King came to as they lifted him, and walked 
a few steps ; but lucked aYoutvd aud fell aside 



A Day of Pleasure. 195 

as though his head were dazed. Dr. Teal 
thought there was not much the matter, and 
that he might be conveyed to Worcester. 
Ferrar helped to carry him down the hill, and 
the other Frogs followed. A fine fury their van 
driver was in, at their having kept him wait- 
ing!^ 

King was made comfortable along the floor of 
the waggonette, upon some rugs and blankets 
lent by the Crown ; and so was taken home. 
When Captain Sanker found what had hap- 
pened, he grew excited, and went knocking at 
half the doctors' doors in Worcester. Mr. 
Woodward was the first in, and Dr. Maiden 
and Mr. Carden came running together. By 
what the captain had said, they expected to 
find all the house dead. 

King seemed better in the morning. The 
injury lay chiefly in his head. We did not hear 
what the doctors made of it. He was sensible, 
and talked a little. When asked how he came 
to fall, all he said was that he *' went over and 
could not save himself." 

Coming in, from carrying the news, of how 
he was, to the Squire and Mrs. Todhetley at 
the Star, I found Mark Ferrar at the door. 

'* Mr. Johnny," said he, in a low voice, his 
plain face all concern, *' how did it happen ? 
Sure he was not pushed over ?" 

'* Of course not. Why do you ask vX.*?* 

Ferrar paused. " M aster ] oVvtvwy . ^NV^tv^^o-^^ 

12) — '^ 



196 Johnny Ludlow. 

are lame, they are more cautious. He'd hardly 
be likely to slip." 

"He might in waking. It's only a narrow 
ledge there. And his sister says she thinks he 
went to sleep when she left him. She was the 
last that saw him." 

Mark's wide mouth went into all sorts of 
contortions, and the freckles shone in the sun 
in his effort to get the next words out. 

** I fancy it was me that saw him last, Master 
Johnny. Leastways, later than his sister." 

" Did you ? How was that T 

" He must have seen me near the place, and 
he called to me. There was nobody there but 
him, and some chairs and a table and glasses 
and things. He asked me to sit down, and 
began telling me he had been saying * Lord 
Bateman ' to them all. I didn't know what 
* Lord Bateman' meant, Master Johnny — and 
he said he would tell it me ; he should not mind 
then, but he had minded saying it to the com- 
pany. It was poetry, I found; but he stopped 
in the middle, and told me to go then, for he 
saw some of them coming " 

** Some of what ?" I interrupted. 

'' Well, I took it to mean some of his grown- 
up party, or else the college boys. Anyway, 
he seemed to want me gone, sir, and I went off 
at once. I didn't see him after that." 

" He must have fallen asleep, and somehow 
slipped over." 



A Day of Pleasure. 197 

" Yes, sir. What a pity he was left in that 
shallow place 1" 

King seemed to have all his wits about him, 
but his face had a white, odd look in it. He 
lay in a room on the first floor, that belonged in 
general to the two girls. When I said Mark 
Ferrar was outside, King asked me to take him 
up. But I did not like taking him without 
speaking to Captain Sanker ; and I went to him 
in the parlour. 

" The idea of a Frog coming into our house !" 
cried resentful Dan, as he heard me. " It's like 
his impudence to stop outside it ! What next "i 
Let him wait till King's well." 

" You hold your tongue, Dan," cried the cap- 
tain. *' The boy shall go up, whether he's a 
Frog or whether he's one of you. Take him 
up, Johnny." 

He did not look unlike a frog when he got 
into the room, with his wide, red, freckled face 
and his great wide mouth — but, as I have said, 
it was a face to be trusted. The first thing he 
did, looking at King, was to burst into a great 
blubber of tears. 

" I hope you'll get well," said he. 

" I might have been as bad as this in the 
fight, but for your pulling me out of it. Frog," 
said King, in his faint voice. And he did not 
call him Frog in any contempt, but as though it 
were his name : he knew him by tvo olVs.^x, 
" Was that bump done in tVieb^XxX^T 



198 Johnny Ludlow, 

Mark had his cap off: on one side of his 
forehead, under the hair, we saw a big lump the 
size of an egg. " Yes," he answered, ** it was 
got in the fight. Father thinks it never means 
to go down. It's pretty stiff and sore yet/' 

King sighed. He was gazing up at the lump 
with his nice blue eyes. 

" I don't think there'll be any fighting in 
Heaven," said King. '* And I wrote out ' Lord 
Bateman ' the other day, and they shall give it 
you to keep. I didn't finish telling it you. He 
owned half Northumberland ; and he married her 
after all. She had set him free from the prison, 
you know. Frog.*' 

" Yes," replied Frog, quite bewildered, and 
looking as though he could not make top or tail 
of the story. *' I hope you'll get well, sir. 
How came you to fall ?" 

" I don't think they expect me to get well : 
they'd not have so many doctors if they did. I 
shan't be lame. Frog, up there." 

" Did you slip i^ — or did anybody push you ?" 
went on Frog, lowering his voice. 

"Hush!" said King, glancing at the door. 
''If papa heard you say that, he might go into 
a passion." 

*' But — was it a slip — or were you pushed 
over ?" persisted Frog. 

'* My leg is always slipping : it has never 
been of much good to me," answered King. 
^' W/ien you come up there, aud s^^ rcv^ >N\tiv a 



A Day of Pleasure. 199 

beautiful strong body and straight limbs, you 
won't know me again at first. Good-bye till 
then, Frog ; good-bye. It was very kind of you 
to carry me out of the fight, and God saw you." 

** Good-bye, sir," said Frog, with another 
burst, as he put out his hand to meet poor 
King's white one. " Perhaps you II get over it 
yet." 

Tod and I took leave of them in the after- 
noon, and went up to the Star. The Squire 
wanted to be home early. The carriage was 
waiting before the gateway, the ostler holding 
the heads of Bob and Blister, when Captain 
Sanker came up in dreadful excitement. 

" He's gone," he exclaimed. '* My poor 
King's gone. He died as the clock was striking 
four." 

And we had supposed King to be going on 
well 1 The Squire ordered the horses to be 
put up again, and we went down to the house. 
The boys and girls were all crying. 

King lay stretched on the bed, his face very 
peaceful and looking less white than I had some- 
times seen it look in life. On the cheeks there 
lingered a faint colour; his forehead felt warm; 
you could hardly believe he was dead. 

" He has gone to the Heaven he talked of," 
said Mrs. Sanker through her tears. " He has 
been talking about it at intervals all day — and 
now he is there ; and has Vv\s \v^.t^ ^vciA >^^ 
angels. " 



200 Johnny Ludlow. 

And that was the result of our Day of 
Pleasure ! The force of those solemn words 
has rarely been brought home to hearts as it 
was to ours then : "In the midst of life we are 
in death." 



III. 

THE FINAL ENDING TO IT. 

OF all the gloomy houses anybody ever 
stayed in, Captain Sanker's was the worst. 
Nothing but coffins coming into it, and all of us 
stealing about on tip-toe. King lay in the room 
where he died. There was to be an inquest : 
at which the captain was angry. But he was so 
excited and sorrowful just then as to have no 
head at all. 

Which might well be excused in him. Picture 
what it was ! Three carriages full of us had 
started on the Tuesday morning, expecting to 
have a day of charming pleasure on the Mal- 
vern Hills in the July sunshine; no more 
thinking of death or any other catastrophe, than 
if the world had never contained such! And 
poor King — poor lame King, whose weakness 
made him more helpless than were we strong 
ones, and v/ho only on the previous Saturday 
had been plucked out of the fight in Diglis 
Meadow and been saved — Kitv^t^v^sxWJ^'a.^^'^'^ 
on a dangerous part oi tV\e \u\\ ^tv^ ^c}\ ^o^xv \^- 



202 Joh7my Ludlow. 

ft 

and come home to die ! " Better King than any 
of the rest of you/* cried Mrs. Sanker, more 
than once, in her dreamy way, and with her 
eyes dry, for she seemed tired of tears : " he 
could never have done battle with the world as 
you will have to do it ; and he was quite ready 
for heaven." 

Instead of going home with our people the 
day after the death, as Tod did, I had to wait at 
Worcester for the inquest. When the beadle 
(or whoever the officer might be ; he had gold 
cord on his hat and white ribbed stockings 
below his breeches : which stockings might 
have been fellows to old Jones's of Church 
Dykely) came to Captain Sanker's to make 
inquiries the night of the death, and heard that 
1 had been first up with King after his fall, he 
said I should have to give evidence. So I 
stayed on with them — much to my uneasiness. 
If I had thonght the Sankers queer people 
before, I thought them queerer now. Not one 
of the boys and girls, except Fred, cared to go 
alone by the door of the room where King lay. 
And, talking of King, it was not until I saw 
the name on the coffin-lid that I knew his name 
was not King, but Kingsley. He looked as 
nice and peaceful as any dead lad with a nice 
face could look ; and yet they were afraid to 
pass by outside. Dan and Ruth were the 
worst. I did not wonder at her — she was a 
little girl ; but I did at Dan. Y te^iVoX^ m^ \!wax 



The Final Ending to it. • 203 

when thev were children a servant had used to 
tell them stories of ghosts and dreams and 
banshees ; Hetta and he were too old to be 
frightened, but the rest had taken it all into their 
nature. I privately thought that Mrs. Sanker 
was no better than the fool of a servant, reciting 
to them her dreams and accounts of apparitions. 

King died on the Wednesday afternoon. On 
Thursday afternoon the inquest took place. It 
was held at the Angel Inn, in Sidbury, and Mr. 
Robert Allies was the foreman. Boys don't 
give evidence on inquests every day: I felt 
shy and uncomfortable at having to do it ; and 
perhaps that may be the reason why the 
particulars remain so strongly on my memory. 
The time fixed was three o'clock, but it was 
nearly four when they came down to look at 
King : the coroner explained to the jury that he 
had been detained. When they went back to 
the Angel Inn we followed them — Captain 
Sanker, Fred, and I. 

All kinds of nonsense ran about the town. It 
was reported that there had been a fight with 
the Frogs on Malvern Hill, during which King 
had been pitched over. This was only laughed 
at by those who knew how foundationless it was. 
Not a shadow of cause existed for supposing it 
to have been anything but a pure accident. 

The coroner and jury sat at a long table 
covered with green baize. The corotv^t VsaAVcss. 
cierk by him ; and on one side "NVt. K!»Xv^^ ^"^ 



204 Johnny Ludlozu. 

Captain Chamberlain, on the other side Mr. 
AUcroft. Dr. Teal and Mr. Woodward were 
present, and gave the medical evidence in a most 
learned manner. Reduced to plainness, it meant 
that King had died of an injury to the head. 

When my turn came, what they chiefly asked 
me was, whether I had seen or heard any quar- 
relling with St. Peter's boys that day at Mal- 
vern. None whatever, I answered. Was I 
quite sure of that ? pursued one — it was Mr. 
AUcroft. I did not think there had been, or 
could have been, I repeated : we and the 
charity boys had kept apart from each other all 
day. Then another of the jury, Mr. Stone, put 
some questions, and then Mr. Allen — I thought 
they were never going to believe me. So I said 
it was the contrary of quarrelling, and told of 
Captain Sanker's giving one of them half-a-crown 
because he had been kind to King on Satur- 
day, and of some of the boys — all who had not 
gone home in the first van — having helped us to 
look for King at night. After they had turned 
me inside out, the coroner could say that these 
questions were merely put for form's sake and 
for the satisfaction of the public. 

When the witnesses were done with, the 
coroner spoke to the jury. I suppose it was his 
charge. It seemed ail as plain as a turnpike, 
he said : the poor little lame boy had slipped 
and fallen. The probability was that he had 
dropped asleep too neat tW ed^'e; ol \5cv^ ^^x- 



The Final Ending to it. 205 

pendicular bank, and had either fallen over in 
his sleep, or in the act of awaking. He (the 
coro ner) thought it must have been the former, 
as no cry appeared to have been made, or heard. 
Under these circumstances, he believed the jury 
could havenodifficultyin arriving at their verdict. 

The last word,'* verdict," was still on his tongue 
when some commotion took place at the end of 
the room. A working-man, in his shirt-sleeves 
and a leather apron on, was pushing in through 
the crowd at the door, making straight for the 
table and the coroner. Some of the jury knew 
him for John Dance, a glove-cutter at a Quaker 
gentleman's manufactory hard by. He begged 
pardon of the gentlefolk for coming amid 'em 
abrupt like that, he said, just as he was, but 
something had but now come to his hearing about 
the poor little boy who had died. It made him 
fear he had not fell of himself, but been flung 
over, and he had thought it his duty to come 
and tell it. 

The consternation this suggestion created, de- 
livered in its homely words, would not be easy to 
describe. Captain Sanker, who had been sitting 
against the wall, got up in agitation. John 
Dance was asked his grounds for what he said, 
and was entering into a long rigmarole of a tale 
when the coroner stopped him, and bade him 
simply say how it had come to his own know- 
ledge. He answered that upon going hooxe. 
)\\st now to tea, from his vjotk, \\\^ ^o^\ 'SX^xr^^ 



2o6 Johnny Ludlow. 

who was in St. Peter's School, told him of it^ 
having been sent to do so by the master. Clerk 
Jones. His son was with him, waiting to be 
questioned. 

The boy came forward, very red and sheepish, 
looking as though he thought he was going to be 
hung. He stammered and stuttered in giving 
his answers to the coroner. 

The tale he told was this. His name was 
Henry Dance, aged thirteen. He was on the 
hill, not very far from St. Ann's Well, on the 
Tuesday afternoon, looking about for Mark 
Ferrar. All on a sudden he heard some 
quarrelling below him : somebody seemed to 
be in a foaming passion, and little King the 
lame boy called out in a fright, ** Oh, don't ! 
don't I you'll throw me over !" Heard then a 
sort of rustle of shrubs — as it sounded to him — 
and then heard the steps of some one running 
away along the path below the upright bank. 
Couldn't see anything of this ; the bank prevented 
him ; but did see the arm of the boy who was 
running as he turned round the corner. Didn't 
see the boy ; only saw his left arm swaying ; he 
had got a green handkerchief in his hand. 
Could not tell whether it was one of their boys 
(St. Peter s) or one of the college boys ; didn't 
see enough of him for that. Didn't know then 
that anything bad had happened, and thought 
no more about it at all ; didn't hear of it till the 
next morning : he had beeu \tv \.\v^ ^ti\. n^w iVv-^t 



The Final Ending to it. 207 

left Malvern, and went to bed as soon as he got 
home. 

The account was h'stened to breathlessly. The 
boy was in a regular fright while he told it, but 
his tones and looks seemed honest and true. 

** How did you know it was King Sanker s 
voice you heard ?" asked the coroner. 

" Please, sir, I didn't know it/' was the answer. 
** When I came to hear of his fall the next day, 
I supposed it must ha' been his. I didn't know 
anybody had fell down ; I didn't hear no cry." 

"What time in the afternoon was this ?" 

" Please, sir, I don't know exact. We had our 
tea at four : it warn't over- long after that." 

** Did you recognise the other voice ?" 

** No, sir. 'Twas a boy's voice." 

** Was it one you had ever heard before i^" 

" I couldn't tell, sir ; I wasn't near enough to 
hear or to catch the words. King Sanker spoke 
last, just as I got over the spot." 

" You heard of the accident the next morn- 
ing, you say. Did you hear of it early ?" 

"It was afore breakfast, sir. Some of our 
boys that waited for the last van telled me ; and 
Ferrar, he telled me. They said they had helped 
to look for him." 

" And then it came into your mind that it was 
King Sanker you had heard speak T 

*' Yes, sir, it did. It come right into my 
mind, all sudden like, that he might have beea 
throwed over," 



2o8 Johnny Ludlotc. 

'' Well now, Mr. Harry Dance, how was it 
that you did not at once hasten to report this ? 
How is it that you have kept it in till now ?** 

Harry Dance looked too confused and fright- 
ened to answer. He picked at the band of his 
grey cap and stood, first on one foot, then on the 
other. The coroner pressed the question 
sharply, and he replied in confusion. 

Didn't like to tell it. Knew people were 
saying it might have been one of their boys 
that had pitched him over. Was afraid to tell. 
Did say a word to Mark Ferrar ; not much : 
Ferrar wanted to know more, and what it was 
he meant, but didn't tell him. That was yester- 
day morning. Had felt uncomfortable ever sinjce 
then, wanting to tell, but not liking to. This 
afternoon, in school, writing their copies at the 
desk, he had told Tom Wood art, the carpenter s 
son, who sat next him ; leastways, had said the 
college boy had not fell of hisself, but been 
pitched over; and Tom Wood'art had made 
him tell it to another boy, Collins ; and then 
the two had went up to the desk and telled their 
master, Mr. Jones ; and Mr. Jones, after calling 
him up to ask about it, had ordered him home to 
tell it all to his father ; and his father said he 
must come and tell it here. 

The father, John Dance, spoke up again to 
confirm this, so far as his part went. He was 
so anxious it should be told to the gentlemen at 
once, he repeated, that he had come out all un- 



The Final Ending to it 209 

tidy as he was, not stopping to put himself to 
rights in any way. 

The next person to step forward was Mr. 
Jones, in his white cravat and black clothes. He 
stated that the two boys, Thomas Woodward 
and James Collins, had made this strange com- 
munication to him. Upon which he had ques- 
tioned Dance, and at once despatched him home 
to acquaint his father. 

" What sort of a boy is Harry Dance, Mr. 
Jones?" inquired the coroner. *' A truthful 
boy } — one to be depended on ? Some boys, as 
I dare say you know, are capable of romancing 
in the most unaccountable manner: inventing 
lies by the bushel." 

" The boy is truthful, sir ; a sufficiently good 
boy," was the reply. " Some of them are just 
what you describe ; but Dance, so far as I be- 
lieve, may be relied upon." 

" Well, now, if this is to be credited, it must 
have been one of St. Peter's boys who threw the 
deceased over,*' observed a juryman at the other 
end. " Did you do it yourself, Harry Dance } 
Stand straight, and answer." 

*' No, sir : I shouldn't never like to do such a 
cowardly thing," was the answer, given with a 
burst of fear — if the look of his face might be 
trusted. '^ I was not anigh him." 

" It must have been one of you. This is 
the result of that fight you two sets of boys 

VOL. II. \i^ 



2IO Johnny Ludlow. 

held on Saturday. You have been harbouring- 
malice." 

•* Please, sir, I wasn't in the fight on Satur- 
day. I had went over to Clains on an errand 
for mother." 

"That's true," said Clerk Jones. ''Dance 
was not in the fight at all. As far as I can 
ascertain, there was no ill-feeling displayed on 
either side at Malvern ; no quarrelling of any 
kind." And Captain Sanker, who was standing 
up to listen, confirmed this. 

" The natural deduction to be drawn is, that 
if the deceased was flung over, it was by one of 
St. Peter's boys — though the probability is that 
he did not intend to inflict much injury/' ob- 
served one of the jury to the rest. Boys are so 
reprehensibly thoughtless. Come, Harry Dance \ 
if you did not give him a push yourself, you can 
tell, I dare say, who did." 

But Dance, with tears in his eyes, affirmed 
that he knew no more than he had told : he had 
not the least notion who the boy was that had 
been quarrelling with King. He saw none of 
the boys, St. Peter's boys or college boys, about 
the hill at that time ; though he was looking out 
for them, because he wanted to find Ferrar : and 
he knew no more than the dead what boy it was 
who had run away, for he saw nothing but his 
arm and a green handkerchief. 

** Did you find Ferrar after that i*" resumed 
the coronen 



The Fmal Ending to it. 211 

" Yes, sir ; not long after. I found him look- 
ing for me round on the t'other side o' St. Ann's 
Well." 

** By the way — on which side of St. Ann's 
Well is situated the spot where you heard the 
quarrel ?" 

"On the right-hand side, sir, looking dowjt 
the hill," said the boy. And by the stress laid 
on the ** down," I judged him to be given to 
exactness. " I know the place, sir. If you take 
a sideway path from the Well bearing down'ards, 
you come to it. It's shady and quiet there ; a 
place that nobody hardly finds out." 

^* Did you say anything to Ferrar, when you 
found him, of what you had heard T 

*' No, sir. I didn't think any more about it. 
I didn't think any harm had been adone." 

*' But you did mention it to Ferrar the next 
morning ?" 

" Yes, sir, I had heard of it, then." 

" What did you say .?" 

** I only said I was afeared he might have 
been throwed over. Ferrar asked me why, but 
I didn't like to say no more, for fear o' doing 
mischief. It wasn't me," added Dance, appeal- 
ing piteously to the jury. *M'd not have hurt 
a hair of his head : he was weak and lame." 

*' Is Ferrar here ?" cried the coroner. " We 
must have him." 

Ferrar was not there. And Mr, Jo^^^, 
speaking up, said he had seetv tvo\)cCvcv^ ^V^ ^^^-^^ 

\^ — ^ 



212 Johnny Ludlow. 

since the previous day. He was informed that 
he had taken French leave to go off somewhere 
— which kind of leave, in point of fact, he added, 
Master Ferrar was much in the habit of taking. 

" But where has he gone ?*' cried the coroner. 
•* You don't mean he has decamped ?" 

" Decamped for the time being,"' said Mr. 
Jones. " He will no doubt put in an appear- 
ance in a day or two." 

Not one of the jury but pricked up his ears ; 
not one, I could see it in their faces, but was 
beginning to speculate on this absence of Fer- 
rar s. The coroner was staring straight before 
him, speculating too : and just then Fred Sanker 
said something in a half whisper. 

** Ferrar was with my brother King at the 
spot where he fell from. As far as we know 
he was the last person who ever saw him alive,*' 

** And not here 1" cried the coroner. " Why 
is he not ? Where does the neglect lie, I 
wonder ? Gentlemen, I think we had better 
send round for his father, and ask an explana- 
tion." 

In a small town like Worcester (small in com- 
parison with great capitals) the inhabitants, rich 
and poor, mostly know one another, what they 
are, and where their dwelling is. Old Ferrar 
lived within a stone's throw of the Angel ; he 
was a china painter, employed by the Messrs. 
Chamberlain. Somebody ran for him ; and he 
came ; a tidy-looking man \tv a ^oo^ co^x, N^\t\\ 



The Final Ending to it. 213 

grey whiskers and grey hair. He bowed civilly 
to the room, and gave his name as Thomas 
Ferrar. 

As far as anything connected with what tpok 
place at Malvern he was in total Ignorance, he 
said. When his son Mark got home- on the 
Tuesday night, he had told him that Captain 
Sanker's little boy had fallen down a part of the 
hill, and that he, Mark, had been one of those 
who helped to find him. In the afternoon of 
the same day they heard the little boy had 
died. 

** Where is your son?" asked the coroner. 

** I am not sure where he is,*' replied Thomas 
Ferrar. ''When I and his brother got home 
from the factory on Wednesday evening, my 
daughter told me Mark had gone off again. 
Somebody had given him half-a-crown I believe. 
With that in his pocket, he was pretty sure to 
go off on one of his rovings." 

** He is in the habit of going off, then ?" 

** Yes, sir, he has done it on occasion almost 
ever since he could run alone. I used to leather 
him well for it, but it was of no use ; it didn't 
stop it. It's his only fault. Barring that, he's 
as good and upright a lad as anybody need 
have. He does not go off for the purpose of 
doing harm : neither does he get into any." 

" Where does he go to ?", 

"Always to one of two ^\9l^'^^\ \.q> ^^\>Ssn. 
Crabby or to his grandfather' s ^X ^ vcvn\x\. ^^^ 



214 Johnny Ludlow. 

generally to South Crabb, to see the Batleys, 
who are cousins of my late wife's. They've got 
boys and girls of Mark's own age, and he likes 
to be there." 

" You conclude then that he is at one of these 
places now ?" 

" Sure to be, sir : and I think it's sure to be 
South Crabb. He was at Pinvin a fortnight 
ago ; for I walked over on the Sunday morning 
and took him with me. Mark is of a roving 
turn ; he is always talking of wanting to see the 
world. I don't believe he 11 ever settle down to 
steady work at home." 

^* Well, we want him here, Mr. Ferrar; and 
must have him too. Could you send after him 
— and get him here by to-morrow T 

** I can send his brother after him, if you say 
it must be. The likelihood is that he will come 
home of himself to-morrow evening." 

** Ay, but we must have him here in the after- 
noon, you see. We want to hear what he can 
tell us about the deceased. It is thought that 
he was the last person with him before the fall. 
And, gentlemen," added the coroner, turning 
to the jury, " I will adjourn proceedings to the 
same hour to-morrow — three o'clock." 

So the inquest was adjourned accordingly, 

and the room slowly cleared itself. Very slowly. 

People stood in gro/ips of threes and fours to 

taJJc to each other. This new evidence was 

startling : and the impressiotv \\. m^di^ ^^&, \5csax. 



The Final Ending to it. 215 

one of the Frogs had certainly thrown down 
King. 

The green handkerchief was mentioned. 
Coloured silk pocket-handkerchiefs were much 
patronised by gentlemen then, and the one used 
by Dr. Teal that day happened to be green. 
The doctor said he had missed his handkerchief 
when they were down at the Abbey before tea, 
but could not tell where he had left it. He 
found it in the room at St. Ann*s when they got 
up again, and supposed it had been there all 
along. So that handkerchief was not much 
thought of : especially as several of the Frogs 
had green neckerchiefs on, and might have 
taken them off, as it was very hot. That a 
Frog had flung King over, appeared to be, to 
use the coroners words on another part of the 
subject, as plain as a turnpike. The Sankers, 
one and all, adopted it as conclusive ; Captain 
Sanker in particular was nearly wild, and said 
bitter things of the Frogs. Poor King still lay 
in the same room, and none of them, as before, 
cared to go by the door. 

It must have been in the middle of the night 
Any way, it looked pitch-dark. I was asleep, 
and dreaming that we were sorting handker- 
chiefs : all colours seemed to be there but a 
green one, and that — the one being looked for 
— we could not find : when something sud- 
denly woke me. A hand was grasping at tsv^ 
shoulder. 



2i6 Johnny Ludlow. 

"Halloa! who's there?" 

" I say, Johnny, I can't stop in my bed ; I've 
come to yours. If you mind my getting in, I'll 
lie across the foot, and get to sleep that way." 

The voice was Dan's, and it had no end of 
horror in it. He was standing by the bed in 
his nightshirt, shivering. And yet the summer's 
night was hot. ' 

" Get in if you like, Dan : there's plenty of 
room. What's the matter with your own bed ?" 

** King's there," he said in a dreadful whisper, 
as he crept trembling in. 

" King! Why, what do you mean ?" 

" He comes in and lies down in his place just 
as he used to lie," shivered Dan. ** I asked 
Toby to sleep with me to-night, and Fred 
wouldn't let him. Fred ought to be ashamed ; 
it's all his ill-nature. He's bigger than I am, 
one of the seniors, and he never cares w^hether 
he sleeps alone or not." 

" But, Dan, you should not get these fancies 
in your head about King. You know it's not 



true." 



" I tell you it is true. King s there. First 
of all, he stood at the foot of the bed and looked 
at me ; and then, when I hid my face, I found 
he had got into it. He's lying there, just as he 
used to lie, his head turned to the wall." 

" To begin with, you couldn't see him — him, 
or anyone else. It's too dark." 

^^ /t s not dark. My roottv s Yv^\.^t x^-aj^ >^Cv5» \ 



The Final Ending to it. 217 

It has a bigger window : and the sky was 
bright and the stars were out. Anyway, 
Johnny, it was h'ght enough to see King — and 
there he was. Do you think. I'd tell a lie 
over it ? '' 

I can't say I felt very comfortable myself. 
It's not pleasant to be woke up with this kind 
of thing at the top of a house when somebody s 
Jying Jead underneath. Dan's voice was 
enough to give one the shivers, let alone his 
words. Some stars came out, and I could see 
the outline of the furniture : or perhaps the 
stars had been shining all along; only, on first 
awaking the eye is not accustomed to the 
darkness. 

" Try and go to sleep, Dan. You'll be all 
right in the morning." 

To go to sleep seemed, however, to be far 
enough from Dan's thoughts. After a bit of 
uneasy turning and trembling — and Tm sure 
anyone would have said his legs had caught St. 
Vitus's Dance — he gave sleep up as a bad job, 
and broke out now and again with all kinds of 
detached comments. I could only lie and 
listen. 

Wondered whether he should be seeing King 
always ? — if so, would rather be dead. Wished 
he had not gone to sleep on that confounded 
bench outside St. Ann's Well — might have 
been at hand near King, and saved Vvvccv, \S. Vsl 
had not. It was that beast\y \\o\.>\e^ ^^ "^"^sX 



2i8 Johnny Ludlow. 

made him. Wished bottled ale had not been 
invented. Wished he could wring Dance's 
neck — or Ferrar's — or that Wood'art*s, which- 
ever of the lot it was that had struck King: 
Knew it was one of the three. What on earth 
could have taken the Frogs to Malvern that 
day ? — Wished every Frog ever born was 
hanged or drowned. Thought it must be 
Ferrar — else why had the fellow decamped ? 
Thought the whole boiling of Frogs should be 
driven from the town — how dared they, the 
insolent charity beggars, have their school near 
the college school } Wondered what would 
be done to Ferrar if it was proved against him ? 
Wished it had been Ferrar to fall down in place 
of King. Wished it had been himself (Dan) 
rather than King. Poor King! — who was 
always so gentle — and never gave offence to 
any of them — and was so happy with his 
hymns and his fancies, and his poetry! — and 
had said " Lord Bateman" for them that day 
when told to say it, and — and — 

At this thought Dan broke fairly down and 
sobbed as though his heart were breaking. I 
felt uncommonly sorry for him ; he had been 
very fond of King; and I was sorry for his 
superstition. What a mistake it seemed for 
Mrs. Sanker to have allowed them to grow up 
m It! 

At three o'clock the next day the inquest 
mtt again. The coroner aud *^wx^, >n\vo ^^^\t^^4u 



The Final Ending to it. 219 

to have got thoroughly interested in the case 
now, kept their time to a minute. There was 
much stir in the neighbourhood, and the street 
was full before the Angel Inn. As to Frog 
Lane, it was said the excitement there had 
never been equalled. The report that it was 
one of St Peter's boys who had done it, 
went echoing everywhere; nobody thought of 
doubting it. / did not. Watching Harry 
Dance's face when he had given his evidence, I 
felt sure that every word he said was true. 
Some one had flung King over : and that some 
one, there could be no question of it, was one 
of those common adversaries, the Frogs. If 
King must have gone to sleep that afternoon, 
better that Dan, as he had said, or one of the 
rest of us, had stayed by to protect him ! 

Mark Ferrar had turned up. His brother 
found him at South Crabb. He came to the 
inquest in his best clothes, those he had worn 
at Malvern. I noticed then, but I had not 
remembered it, that he had a grass-green 
neckerchief 6n, tied with a large bow and ends. 
His good-natured, ugly, honest face was redder 
than ever as he stood to give his evidence. He 
did not show any of the stammering confusion 
that Dance had done, but spoke out with 
modest self-possession. 

His name was Mark Ferrar, aged nearly 
fourteen (and looking ever so rtvuciv cJAet^^ .. 
second son of Thomas Ferrair, cJ^vvcva. ^ivc^Xftx^ 



m 



220 Johnny Ltidlow. 

He had seen the deceased boy. King Sanker, 
at Malvern on Tuesday. When he and some 
more of St. Peter's boys were coming down the 
hill they had met King and his party. King 
spoke to him and told his father, Captain 
Sanker, that he was the Frog — the college boys 
called them Frogs — who had picked him up 
out of the fight on Saturday to save him from 
being crushed : and Captain Sanker thanked 
him and gave him half-a-crown to spend in 
Malvern cakes. Master Johnny Ludlow was 
with the Sankers, and saw and heard this. 
Did not buy the Malvern cakes : had meant to, 
and treat the rest of the boys ; but dinner was 
ready near the foot of the hill when they got 
down, and forgot it afterwards. After dinner 
he and a lot more boys went up another of 
the beacons and down on the Herefordshire 
side. They got back about four o'clock, and 
bad bread and butter and cider for tea. Then 
he and Harry Dance went up the hill again, 
taking two ways, to see which would be at St. 
Ann's Well first. Couldn't see Dance when he 
got up, thought he might be hiding, and went 
looking about for him. Went along a side- 
path leading off from St. Ann's ; 'twas sheltered, 
and thought Dance might be there. Suddenly 
heard himself called to : looked onwards, and 
saw the lame boy, King Sanker, there, and 
some chairs and glasses on a table. Went on> 
and King asked him to s\\. do\<itv, mv^ X^^^w. 



The Final Ending to it, 221 

talking to him, saying he had had to say 
'* Lord Bateman" before them all. He, Ferrar, 
did not know what " Lord Bateman" was, and 
King said he would say it to him. Began to 
say it; found it was poetry verses : King had 
said a good many when he broke off in the 
middle of one, and told him to go then, for they 
were coming. Did not know who "they** 
meant, did not see or hear anybody himself; 
but went away accordingly. Went looking all 
about for Dance again; found him by-and-by on 
a kind of plateau on the other side of St. Ann's. 
They went up the hill together, and only got 
down again when it was time to start for 
Worcester. He did not go in the first van; 
tliere was no room ; waited for the second. 
Saw the other party starting : heard that some 
one was missing: found it was King; offered 
to help to look for him. Was going up with 
the rest past the Unicorn, when some people 
met them, saying they'd heard groans. Ran on, 
and found it was King Sanker. He seemed to 
have fallen right down from the place where he 
had been sitting in the afternoon, and where he, 
Ferrar, had left him. 

Such in substance was the evidence he gave. 
Some of it I could corroborate, and did. I told 
of King's asking that Ferrar might go up to him 
the next day, and of his promising him " Lord 
Bateman," which he had got by him, writtea ov\t* 

But Ferrar was not done mx\v. Xrcv^w.v-^N^x. 



22 2 Johnny Ludlow, 

questions had to be asked him yet. Sometimes 
it was the coroner who put them, sometimes one 
or another of the jury. 

" Did you see anything at all of the deceased 
after leaving him as you have described, Mark 
Ferrar?" 

" No, sir. I never saw him again till nighty 
when we found him lying under a part of the 
hill.'' 

" When you quitted him at his bidding, did 
you see any boys about, either college boys or 
St. Peter s boys ?" 

" No, sir, I did not see any ; not one. The 
hills about there seemed as lonely as could be." 

" Which way did you take when you left him T^ 

" I ran straight past St. Ann's, and got on to 
the part that divides the Worcestershire beacon 
from the next. Waiting for Dance, I sat down 
on the slope, and looked at Worcester for a bit, 
trying how much of the town I could make out, 
and how many of the churches, and that As I 
was going back toward St. Ann's I met Dance.'* 

" What did Dance say to you ?" 

" He said he had been hunting for me, and 
wanted to know where I had hid myself, and I 
said I had been hunting for him. We went on 
up the hill then and met some more of our boys \ 
and we stayed all together till it was time to go 
down." 

Did Dance say that he had heard sounds of 
quarrelling ?'' 



The Final Ending to it. 223 

"No, sir, never a word." 

"What communication did Dance make to 
you on the subject the following morning ?" 

" Nothing certain, sir. Dance went home in 
the first van, and he didn't hear about King 
Sanker till the morning. I was saying then 
how we found him and that he must have fell 
straight off from the place above. Dance 
stopped me, and said was it sure that he fell — 
was it sure he had not been pushed off? I 
asked why he said that, but he wouldn't answer." 

" Did he refuse to answer ?" 

" I kept asking him to tell me, but he just 
said it was only a fancy that came to him. He 
had interrupted so eager like, that I thought he 
must have heard something. Later, I asked 
Master Johnny Ludlow whether the boy had 
been pushed off, but he said no. I couldn't get 
it out of my head, however. " 

"What clothes did you wear, witness, that 
day at Malvern ?" 

" These here that I've got on now, sir." 

" Did you wear that same green neckerchief ?" 

" Yes, sir. My sister Sally bought it new for 
me to go in." 

" Did you take it off at Malvern ?" 

" No, sir." 

" Not at all." 

" No, sir. Some of them took their hand- 
kerchers off at dinner, because it was hot^ but t 
didn't." J 



2 24 Johnny Ludlow. 

" Why did you not ?" 

For the first time Ferrar hesitated. His face 
turned scarlet. 

** Come, speak up. The truth, mind." 
** Sally had told me not to mess my new silk 
handkercher, for I wasn't likely to have another 
o' one while ; and I thought if I got untying and 
re-tying of it, I should mess it." It seemed 
quite a task to Ferrar to confess this. He feared 
the boys would laugh at him. But I think no- 
body doubted that it was the true reason. 

** You did not take it off while you were sitting 
with the deceased V^ 

*' No, sir. I never took it off all day." 
•' Take it off now." 

Mark Ferrar looked too surprised to under- 
stand the order, and did nothing. The coroner 
repeated it. 

*' Take off this here handkercher, sir ? Now ?" 
" Yes. The jury wish to see it open." 
Mark untied the bow and pulled it off, his 
very freckles showing out red. It was a three- 
cornered silk neckerchief, as green as grass. 

*' Was this like the kerchief you saw being 
swung about, Harry Dance ?" asked the coroner, 
holding it up, and then letting it fall on the table. 
Harry Dance gazed at it as it lay, and shook 
his head. *^ I don't think it were the one, sir," 
he said. 

" Why don't you think it ?" 

** That there looks smaW^t ^xv^ W\^\.^t, and 



The Final Ending to it. 225 

Mother was bigger and darker. Leastways, I 
think it were." 

'* Was it more like this ?" interrupted Dr. 
Teal, shaking out his handkerchief from his 
pocket. 

** I don^t know, sir. It seemed like a big 
handkercher, and was about that there colour o' 
your'n." 

Some inquiry was made at this point as to 
the neckerchiefs worn by the other boys. It 
turned out that two or three had worn very 
large ones, something the colour of Dr. Teal's 
So that passed. 

'* One word, Harry Dance. Did you see 
Ferrar with his handkerchief off that day ?" 

*' I didn't notice, sir : I don't remember. 
Some of us took 'em off on the hills — 'twas very 
hot — and never put 'em on again all day." 

The coroner and jury talked together, and 
then Harry Dance was told to repeat the evi- 
dence he had given the day before. He went 
over it again : the sounds of quarrelling, and 
the words in the voice he had supposed to be 
King's: "Oh, don't — don't! you'll throw me 



over." 



n 



Had Ferrar his neckerchief on when you 
met him soon after this ?" questioned Captain 
Chamberlain. 

** I think he had, sir. I think if he had not I 
should ha' noticed it. I'm nearly as., 
can be that it warn't off." 

VOL. II. 




226 Johnny Ludlow. 

When Dance was done with, Mark Ferrar 
was begun upon again. 

*' What induced you to go off from your home 
on Wednesday evening without notice ?" asked 
the coroner. 

" I went to South Crabb, sir." 

" I don't ask you where you went, I ask why 
you went ?" 

*^ I go over there sometimes, sir. I told Sally 
I was going." 

" Can't you understand my question ? Why 
did you go ?" 

" Nothing particular made me go, sir. Only 
that I had got some money ; and I was feeling^ 
so sorry that the little lame boy was dead, I 
couldn't bear to be still." 

'* You have been punished often, Mark Ferrar, 
for going off on these expeditions ?" cried one of 
the jury. 

" I used to be, sir. Father has leathered me 
for it at home, and Clerk Jones at school. I 
can't do without going out a bit. I wish I was 
a sailor." 

'* Oh, indeed ! Well — is there one of your 
companions that you can suspect of having 
harmed this poor little boy — accidentally or 
otherwise ?" 

** No, sir. It is being said that he was pushed 
over in ill-feeling, or else by accident; but it 
don't seem likely." 

'' Did you push hlrrv ovgt >joMt^^lT 



The Final Ending to it. 227 

" Me 1" returned Ferrar in surprise. " Me 
push him over !" 

** As far as we can learn yet, no one was with 
him there but you." 

" rd have saved him from it, sir, if I had been 
there, instead of harming him. When he sent 
me away he was all right, and not sitting anigh 
the edge. If it was me that had done it, sir, he d 
not have asked for me to go up to him in his 
room — and shook hands— and said I should see 
him in Heaven." 

Mark Ferrar broke down at the remembrance, 
and sobbed like a child. I don't think one single 
person present thought it was he, especially the 
coroner and jury. But the question was — which 
of the other boys could it have been ? 

Several of them were called before the 
coroner. One and all declared they had done 
no harm to the deceased — had not been near 
him to do it — would . not have done it if they 
had been — did not know he had been sitting in 
the place talked of — did not (most of them) know 
where the spot was now. In short, they denied 
it utterly. 

Mr. Jones stepped forward then. He told the 
coroner and jury that he had done his best to 
come to the bottom of the affair, but could not 
find out anything. He did not believe one of 
his boys had been in it ; they were mischievous 
enough, as he well knew, atvd sorcveVvccve.^ \^^€>x- 



228 Johnny Ludlow, 

ful enough ; but they all seemed to be, and he 
honestly believed were^ innocent of this. 

The room was cleared while the jury de- 
liberated. Their verdict was to the effect that 
Kingsley Sanker had died from falling over a 
portion of one of the Malvern Hills ; but whether 
the fall was caused by accident, or not, there 
was not sufficient evidence to show. 

It was late when it was over. Getting dusk. 
In turning out of the inn passage to the street, 
I remember the great buzz around, and the 
people pushing one's elbows; and I can't re- 
member much more. If one Frog was there, it 
seemed to me that there were hundreds. 

I stayed at Captain Sanker's again that night. 
We all went up to bed after supper and prayers 
— which the captain read. He said he could 
not divest himself of the idea that it was a pure 
accident— for who would be likely to harm a 
helpless lad ? — and that what Dance heard must 
have been some passing dispute connected with 
other people. 

** Come along, Johnny : this one candle '11 do 
for us both," cried Dan, taking up a bed candle- 
stick and waiting for me to follow him. 

I kept close to him as we went by the room 
— the room, you know — for Dan was worse than 
any of them for passing it. He and King had 
been much together. King followed him in age ; 
they had always slept together and gone to 



The Final Ending to it. 229 

school together ; the rest were older or younger 
— and naturally Dan felt it most. 

** I shan't be a minute, Johnny, and then you 
can take the candle," said he, when we got to 
the top. " Come in.*' 

Before I had well turned round, after getting 
in, I declare Dan had rushed all his things off 
in a heap and leaped into bed. Poor King had 
not used to be so quick, and Dan always made 
him put the light out. 

** Goodnight, Dan." 

"Good-night, Johnny. I hope I shall get to 
sleep." 

He put his head under the bed-clothes as I 
went away with the candle. I was not long get- 
ting into bed, either. The stars were bright in 
the sky. 

Before there was time to get to sleep, Dan 
came bursting in, shivering as on the past night, 
and asking to be let get into the bed. I did 
not mind his being in the bed — ^liked it rather, 
for company — but I did think it a great stupid 
pity that he should be giving way to these 
superstitious fears as though he were a girl. 

" Look here, Dan : I should be above it. 
One of the smallest of those Frogs couldn't 
show out more silly than this." 

" He's in my bed again, Johnny. Lying 
down. I can't sleep there another night." 

" You know that he ia^lMlffii^ia Kv& c^^'cl- 
with the room-door lotl 




230 Johnny Ludlow, 

" I don't care — he's there in the bed. You 
had no sooner gone with the h'ght, than King 
crept in and lay down beside me. He used to 
have a way of putting his left arm over me 
outside the clothes, and he put it so to-night.'* 

" Dan !" 

" I tell you he did. Nobody would believe 
it, but he did. I felt it like a weight. It was 
heavy, just as dead arms are. Johnny, if this 
goes on, I shall die. Have you heard what 
mamma says ?" 

" No. What." 

'* She says she saw King last night. She 
couldn't sleep ; and by-and-by, happening to 
look out of bed, she saw him standing there. 
He was looking very solemn, and did not 
speak. She turned to awake papa, in spite of 
the way he goes on ridiculing such things, but 
when she looked next King had gone. I wish 
he was buried, Johnny ; I shouldn't think he 
could come back into the house then. Should 
you ?" 

'* He's not in it now — in that sense. It's all 
imagination." 

*' Is it! I should like you to have been in 
my bed, instead of me ; you'd have seen 
whether it was imagination or not. Do you 
suppose his heavy arm across me was fancy ?" 

** Well, he does not come in here. Let us go 
to sleep. Good-night, Dan." 

Dan Jay still for a good bit, ^tvd I 'was nearly 



The Final Ending to it. 231 

asleep when he awoke me sobbing. His face 
was turned the other way. 

** I wish you'd kill me, Johnny." 

'' Kill you !" 

" I don t care to live any longer without King. 
It is so lonely. There's nobody now. Fred's 
getting to be almost a man, and Toby's a little 
duffer. King was best. Fve many a time 
snubbed him and boxed him, and I always put 
upon him ; and — and now he's gone. I wish I 
had fell down instead of him." , 

'' You'll get over it, Dan." 

" Perhaps. But it's such a thing to get over. 
And the time goes so slowly. I wish it was 
this time next year !" 

** Do you know what some of the doctors say ?" 

** What do they say ?" returned Dan, putting 
the top of his face out of bed. 

** Dr. Teal told Captain Sanker of it ; I was 
by and heard him. They think that poor King 
would not have lived above another year, or so : 
that there was no chance of his living to grow 
up. So you might have lost him soon in any 
case, Dan." 

** But he'd have been here till then ; he'd not 
have died through falling down Malvern Hill. 
Oh, and to think that I was rough with him 
often ! — and didn't try to help him when he 
wanted it! — and laughed at his poetry! Johnny, 
I wish you'd kill me 1 I wish it had been me to 
fall over instead of himl" 



232 Johnny Ludlow. 

** There was not one of them that felt it as 
keenly as Dan did ; but the chances were that 
he would forget King the soonest. Dan was 
of that impetuous warm nature that's all fire 
at first; and all forgetfulness when the fire 
goes out. 

I went home the next day to Crabb Cot. Mr. 
Coney came into Worcester to attend the 
corn-market, and offered to drive me back in his 
gig. So I took my leave of the Sankers, and 
my last look at poor King in his coffin. He 
was to be buried on Monday in St. Peter's 
churchyard. 



The next news we had from Worcester was 
that Mark Ferrar had gone to sea. His people 
had wanted him to take up some trade at home ; 
but Mark said he was not going to stay there to 
be told every day of his life that he killed King 
Sanker. For some of the Frogs had taken up 
the notion that it must have been he — why else, 
they asked, did the coroner and the rest of 'em 
want to see his green handkercher shook out ? 
So his father, who was just as much hurt at the 
aspersions as Mark, allowed him to have his 
way and go to sea ; in spite of Sally crying her 
eyes out, and foretelling that he would come 
home drowned. Mark was sent to London to 
sottiQ friend, who uudertoo^L to tcvsk.^ \\\^ xv^^^^« 



The Final Ending to it. 233 

sary arrangements ; he was bound apprentice to 
the sea, and shipped off in a trading vessel sail- 
ing for Spain. 

It was Michaelmas when we next went in to 
Worcester (save for a day at the festival), driving 
in from Dyke Manor : the Squire, Mrs. Tod- 
hetley, and I. You have heard the expedition 
mentioned before, for it was the one when we 
hired the dairymaid, Grizzel, at St. John's mop. 
That business over, we went down to Captain 
Sanker's and found them at home. 

They were all getting pretty well over the 
death now, except Dan. Dan*s grief and 
nervousness were as bad as ever. Worse, even. 
Captain and Mrs. Sanker enlarged upon it. 

" Dan grieves after his brother dreadfully : 
they were always companions, you see," said the 
captain. "He has foolish fancies also : thinks 
he sees King continually. We've had to put 
him to sleep with Fred downstairs, for nothing 
would persuade him that King, poor fellow, did 
not come and get into his old place in bed. The 
night the poor lad was buried, Dan startled the 
whole house up ; he flew down the stairs crying 
and shrieking, and saying that King was there. 
We don't know what to do : he seems to get 
worse, rather than better. Did you notice how 
thin he has become "i You saw him as you 
came in." 

'*• Like a bag o' bones," said ttv^ So^ve^. 

''Ay. Some days he is so xvetvow^^tA*^^^ 



234 Johnny Lndlow, 

can't go to school. I never knew such a thing, 
for my part. I was for trying flogging, but his 
mother wouldn't have it." 

** But — do you mean to tell us, Sanker, that 
he fancies he sees King's ghost?'' cried the 
Squire, in great amazement. 

*' Well, I suppose so," answered the captain. 
" He fancies he sees him: and poor King, as 
far as this world's concerned, can be nothing but 
a ghost now. The other evening, when Dan 
had been commanded to the head-master's house 
for something connected with the studies and 
detained till after dark, he came rushing in with 
a white face and his hair all wet, saying he had 
met King under the elm trees, as he was run- 
ning back through the green towards Edgar 
Tower. How can you deal with such a case ?" 

** I should say flogging would be as good as 
anything," said the Squire, decidedly. 

*' So I thought at first. He's too ill for it 
now. There's nothing, hardly, left of him to 
flog." 

** Captain Sanker, there is only one thing for 
you to do," put in Mrs. Todhetley. " And that 
is, consult a clever medical man." 

** Why, my dear lady, we have taken him to 
pretty nearly all the medical men in Worcester," 
cried the captain. " He goes regularly to Dr. 
Hastings." 

" And what do the doctors say ?" 

'' They think that t\v^ c^X^s^xo^V^ ol ¥L.\xv^'s 



The Final Ending to it. 235 

unhappy death has seized upon the lad's mind, 
and brought on a sort of hypochondriacal affec- 
tion. One of them said it was what the French 
would call a maladie des nerfs. Dan seems so 
full of self-reproach, too." 
" What for ?'' 

" Well, for not having made more of King 
when he was living. And also, I think, for 
having suffered himself to fall asleep that after- 
noon on the bench outside the Well : he says 
had he kept awake he might have been with 
King, and so saved him. But, as I tell Dan, 
there's nothing to reproach himself with in that : 
he could not foresee that King would meet with 
the accident. The doctors say now that he must 
have change of air, and be got away altogether. 
They recommend the sea." 

*' The sea ! Do you mean sea air ?" 
"No; the sea itself; a voyage : and Dan's 
wild to go. A less complete change than that, 
they think, will be of little avail, for his illness 
borders almost — almost upon lunacy. Fm sure, 
what with one thing and another, we seem to be 
in for a peck of misfortunes," added the captain, 
rumpling his hair helplessly. 

" And shall you let him go to sea ?" 
*' Well, I don't know. I stood out against it 
at first. Never meant to send a son of mine to 
sea ; that has always been my resolution. Look 
at what I had to starve upon for ever s»o \^?sx^^J 
years — a Jieu tenant's half pay — atv^ x.o Ye.^>$ ^kv^j 



236 JoJmny Lttdlow. 

wife and bring up my children upon it! You 
can't imagine it, Squire ; it's cruel. Dan's too 
old for the navy, however ; and, if he does go, 
it must be into the merchant service. I don't 
like that, either ; we regular sailors never do like 
it, we hold ourselves above it ; but there's a 
better chance of getting on in it and of making 
money." 

•* I'm sure I am very sorry for it altogether,'* 
said Mrs. Todhetley. "A sailor cannot have 
any comfort." 

*' I expect hell have to go," said the captain, 
ruefully : *' he must get these ideas out of his 
head. It's such a thing, you see, for him to be 
always fancying he sees King." 

" It is a dreadful thing." 

** My wife had a brother once who was always 
seeing odd colours where-so-ever he looked : 
colours and shadows and thinofs. But that was 
not as bad as this. H is doctor called it nerves : 
and I conclude Dan takes after him." 

" My dear, I think Dan takes after your side^ 
not mine," calmly put in Mrs. Sanker, who had 
her light hair flowing and something black in it 
that looked like a feather. "He is so very 
passionate, you know : and I could not go into 
a passion if I tried." 

" I suppose he takes after us both," returned 

Captain Sanker. ** I'll vow he never got his 

superstitious fancies from me, or from anybody 

fceionging to me. 'W e ma^ V>^ ol ^ ^^^'SAawa.te 



The Final Ending to it. 237 

nature, we Sankers, but we don't see 
ghosts." 

In a week or two's time after that, Dan was 
off to sea. A large shipping firm, trading from 
London to India, took him as midshipman. 
The ship was called the Bangalore; a fine 
vessel of about fourteen hundred tons, bound 
for some port out there. When Captain Sanker 
came back from shipping him off, he was full of 
spirits, and said Dan was cured already. No 
sooner was Dan amidst the bustle of London, 
than his fears and fancies left him. 

It was sometime in the course of the next 
spring — getting on for summer, I think — ^that 
Captain Sanker gave up his house in Worcester 
and went abroad, somewhere into Germany. 
Partly from motives of economy, for they had 
no idea of saving, and somehow spent more 
than their income ; partly to see if change would 
get up Mrs. Sanker's health, which was failing. 
After that, we heard nothing more of them : 
and a year or two went on. 



" Please, sir, here's a young man asking to see 
you." 

" A young man asking to see me," cried the 
Squire — ^we were just finishing dinner. ** Who 
is it, Thomas ?^ 

" I don't know, sir," replied old Thomas. 
*' Some smart young fellow dressed as ^. s^-^vW. 
I've showed him into your roota, ^vcT 



238 Johnny Ludlow. 

" Go and see who it is, Johnny." 

It was summer-time, and we were at home 
at Dyke Manor. I went on to the little square 
room. You have been in it too. Opposite the 
Squire's old bureau and underneath the map of 
Warwickshire on the wall, sat the sailor. He 
had good blue clothes on and a turned down 
white collar, and held a straw hat in his hand. 
Where had I seen the face ? — A very red- 
brown honest face, with a mouth as wide as 
Molly's rolling-pin. Wider, now that it was 
smiling. 

He stood up, and turned his straw hat about 
a little nervously. " You've forgotten me. 
Master Johnny. Mark Ferrar, please, sir." 

Mark Ferrar it was, looking shorter and 
broader; and I put out my hand to him. I 
take my likes and dislikes, as you have already 
heard, and can't help taking them ; and Ferrar 
was one whom I had always liked. 

" Please, sir, I've made bold to come over 
here," he went on. '^ Captain Sanker's left 
Worcester, they tell me, and I can't hear where 
he is to be found : and the Teals, they have 
left. I've brought news to him from his son, 
Mr. Dan : and father said I had better come 
over here and tell it, and maybe Squire Tod- 
hetley might get it sent to the captaip." 

" Have you seen anything of Mr. Dan, then T 

" I've been with him nearly all . the time, 
Master Johnny. We setv^d otv \)s\^ ^•^xsxs.^v^ \ 



The Final Ending to it, 239 

he as middy and I as working apprentice. Not 
but what the middies are apprenticed just as sure 
as we are. They don't do our rough work, the 
cleaning and that, and they mess apart ; but 
that's pretty nigh all the difference.'* 

*' And how are you getting on, Mark ?" 

*' First-rate, sir. The captain and officers 
are satisfied with me, and when I've served my 
four years I shall go up to pass for second mate. 
I try to improve myself a bit in general learning 
at odd moments too, sir, seeing I didn't have 
much. It may be of use to me if I ever get up 
a bit in life. Mr. Dan, he " 

" But look here, Ferrar," I interrupted, the 
recollection striking me. *' How came you and 
Mr. Dan to sail together ? You were on a 
small home-coasting barque : he went in an 
Indiaman." 

" I was in the barque first of all, Master 
Johnny, and took a voyage to Spain and back. 
But our owners, hearing a good report of me, 
that I was likely to make a smart and steady 
sailor, put me on their big ship, the Bangalore. 
In a day or two Mr. Dan Sanker came on board." 

" And how is he getting on ? Does he " 

"If you please. Master Johnny, I'd like to 
tell what I've got to tell about him to the 
Squire," he interrupted. '* It is for that, sir, I 
have come all the way over here." 

So I called the Squire in. The following ^Naa 
the cond^ns^di substance o? ¥e.tt2Lt s tv^axx-aXxM^- 



240 Johnny Lttdlow. 

What with his way of telling it, and what with 
the Squire's interruptions, it was rather long. 

" Mr. Dan joined the Bangalore the day we 
sailed, sir. When he saw me as one of the 
sailors he started back as if I shocked him. 
But in a week or two, when he had got round 
from his sea-sickness, he grew friendly, and 
sometimes talked a bit. I used to bring up 
Master King's death, and say how sorry I was 
for it — for you see, sir, I couldn't bear that he 
should think it true that I had had a hand 
in it. But he seemed to hate the subject ; he'd 
walk away if I began it, and at last he said he 
couldn't stand the talking about King ; so I let 
it be. Our voyage was a long one, for the ship 
went about from port to port. Mr. Dan " 

** What sort of a sailor did he make ?" inter- 
rupted the Squire. 

" Well, sir, he was a good smart sailor at his 
work, but he got to be looked upon as rather a 
queer kind of young man. He couldn't bear to 
keep his night watches — it was too lonely, he 
said ; and several times he fell into trouble for 
calling up the hands when there was nothing to 
call them up for. At Hong Kong he had a 
fever, and they shaved his head ; but he got 
well again. One evening, after we had left 
Hong Kong and were on our way to San 
Francisco, I was on deck — almost dark it was 
— when Mr. Dan comes down the rigging all in 
a A cap, just as if a 'w'lX^-cTvt. -^^^ •aSx^'t \s\\x\. 



The Final Ending to it. 241 

* There's King up there/ he says to me : and 
Mr. Conroy, do what he would, couldn't get 
him up again. After that he went about the 
ship peeping and peering, always fancying King 
was hiding somewhere and going to pounce out 
upon him. The captain said his fever was 
coming back : Mr. Dan said it was not fever it 
was King. I told him one day what I thought 
— that Master King had been flung down ; that 
it was not an accident — I felt as sure of it as 
though I had seen it done ; and what I said 
seemed to put him up, sir. Who did I fancy 
had done it, or would do it, he asked me all in 
anger : and I said I did not know who, but if 
ever I got back to Worcester Fd leave not a 
stone unturned to find out. Well, sir, he got 
worse : worse in his fancies, and worse as to 
sickness. He was seeing King always at night, 
and he had dysentery and ague, and got so 
weak that he could hardly stand. One of the 
cabin boys took sick and died on board. The 
night he lay below, dead, Mr. Dan burst into 
the saloon saying it was King who was below, 
and that he'd never be got out of the ship again. 
Mr. Conroy — he was the chief mate, sir — 
humoured him, telling him not to fear, that if it 
was King he would be buried deep in the sea 
on the morrow: but Mr. Dan said he'd not 
stop in the sea, any more than he had stopped 
in his grave in St. Peter's church^^xdvsX\\arKv^\ 
hed be back in the ship agarn." 

VOL. II. \^ 



242 Johnny Ludlow, 

** Dan Sanker must have been mad," observed 
the Squire. 

'* Yes, sir, I think he was ; leastways not 
right. In a day or two he had to be fastened 
down in his berth with brain fever, and Mr, 
Conroy said that as he had known me in the 
past days I had better be the one to sit with 
him, for he couldn't be left. I was quite taken 
aback to hear what he said in his mutterings^ 
and hoped it wasn't true." 

'* Did he get well again ?" 

** Just for a day or two, sir. The fever left 
him, but he was in the shockingest state of 
weakness you could imagine. The night before 
he died " 

The Squire started up. ** Dan Sanker's not 
dead, Ferrar !" 

**Yeshe is, sir. .It's what I have come to 
tell of." 

" Goodness bless me ! Poor Dan dead 1 Only 
think of it, Johnny !" 

But I was not surprised. From th e moment 
Ferrar first spoke, an instinct had been upon me 
that it was so. He resumed. 

** Everything was done for him that could be, 
sir. We had a doctor on board — a passenger 
going to California — but he could not save him. 
He said when it came to such awful weakness 
as that, there could be no saving. Mr. Conroy 
and the other officers were very kind to him — 
the skipper too ; but lYve^ cov^di ^o xvoxJcCvw^. ^Ji 



The Final Ending to it. 243 

his fears seemed to be gone then ; we could 
hardly hear his whispers, but he was sensible 
and calm. He said he knew God had forgave 
him for what he did, and would blot his sin out, 
and King had forgave him too, and had come 
to tell him so : he had been to him in the night 
and talked and smiled happily and said over to 
him a verse of * Lord Bateman ' " 

*' And you say he was in his senses, Ferrar ?" 

" Yes, sir, that he was. That night he made 
a confession, Mr. Conroy and the doctor and 
me being by him. It was he that killed King.'* 

*' Bless my heart !'' cried the Squire. 

" He had seen me sitting with King that 
afternoon at Malvern, and heard him saying the 
verses to me. It put his temper up frightful, 
sir, I being one of their enemies the Frogs ; but 
he says if he'd known it was me that snatched 
King out of the fight on Saturday, he'd not 
have minded so much. It must have been him 
that King saw coming, Master Johnny,'' added 
Ferrar, turning momentarily from the Squire to 
address me ; " when he broke off in the midst of 
' Lord Bateman,' and told me, all in a hurry, to 
go away. He waited till I was gone, and then 
rushed on to King and began abusing him and 
knocking him about. K ing was unsteady through 
his weak leg, and one of the knocks sent him over 
the bank. Dan says he was frightened almost to 
death ; he caught up Dr. Teal's ^t^^xvVvaxvSJ&.^x.^^xi 
from a chzir and ran to tVve^d\m\55v\\.\V^'^'^ 



244 Johnny Ludlow. 

too frightened to go and see after King, think- 
ing he had killed him ; and he sat down outside 
the Well and made as if he went to sleep. He 
never meant to hurt King, he said ; it was only 
passion ; but he had drunk a lot of strong ale 
and some wine atop of it, and hardly knew what 
he was about. He said there was never a 
minute since but what he had been sorry for it, 
and he had been always seeing King. He asked 
me to show him the verses that had been gave 
to me, that King wrote out, 'Lord Bateman' 
— for I had got them with me at sea, sir — and 
he kissed them and held them to him till he 
died." 

" Dear, dear !" sighed the Squire. 

" And that's all, sir," concluded Ferrar. '' Mr. 
Conroy wrote out a copy of his confession, which 
I brought along with me to Worcester. Mr. 
Dan charged me to tell his father, and my own 
folks, and any other friends I liked that had 
thought me guilty, and I promised him. He 
was as placid as a child all the day after that, 
and died at sun-down, so happy and peaceful 
that it was a'most like Heaven.*' 

Ferrar broke off with a sob. Poor Dan ! 

And that was the final ending of the Day of 
Pleasure. He and King are together again. 



IV. 

MARGARET RYMER. 

THE Yhad gone through the snow to evening 
service at North Crabb, the Squire, Mrs. 
Todhetley, and Tod, leaving me at home with 
one of my splitting headaches. Thomas had 
come in to ask if I would have the lamp, but I 
told him I would rather be without it. So there 
I sat on alone, beside the fire, listening to 
Hannah putting the children to bed upstairs, 
and looking sleepily out at the snowy landscape. 

As the fire became dim, sending the room 
into gloom, the light outside grew stronger. 
The moon was high : clear and bright as crystal; 
what with that, and the perfectly white snow 
that lay on everything, the night seemed nearly 
as light as day. The grass plat outside was a 
smooth white plain, the clustering shrubs beyond 
it being also white. 

I knew the fire wanted replenishing ; I knew 
that if I sat on much longer, I should fall asleep ; 
but sit on I did, letting the fire gp> lc>c> V\^^5iJ^^'5. 
to move. My eyes were &x»liiMlltfililk^^^^^ 



246 Johnny Ludlow, 

plain of snow, with the still moonlight lying 
across it. The room grew darker, the land- 
scape lighter. 

And asleep, in another minute, I should in- 
evitably have been, but for a circumstance that 
suddenly arose. All in a moment — I saw not 
how or whence it came — a dark figure appeared 
on the grass plat, close before the bank of 
shrubs, right in front of me ; the figure of a 
man, wrapped in a big greatcoat. He was 
standing still and gazing fixedly at the house. 
Gazing, as it seemed (though that was impos- 
sible) at me. I was wide awake at once, and 
sitting bolt upright in the chair. 

Yes, there could be no mistake ; and it was 
no delusion. The man appeared to be a tall 
man, strong and bony, with a mass of hair on 
his face. What could he want ? Was it a 
robber reconnoitring the premises ; peering and 
peeping to ascertain whether all the world was 
at church, before he broke in to rifle the house? 

No one, void of such an experience, can 
imagine how dark he looked standing there, 
amid the whiteness of all the scene around. In 
one sense, he stood out plainer than he could 
have done by daylight, because the contrast 
was greater. But this kind of light did not show 
his features ; which were shrouded in obscurity. 

Presently he moved. His head went this 
way and that, and he took a step forward. 
jBvidently he was tr^v^?» ^^ ^^^ ^V^^^x: ^^ 



Margaret Rymer. 247 

parlour where I sat was empty or occupied. 
Should I go out to him ? Or should I fling up 
the window and call out to ask what he wanted. 
I was not frightened : don't let anybody think 
that : but the watching him brought to me 
rather a creepy kind of sensation. 

And, just then, as I left the chair quietly to 
open the window, I heard the catch of the 
garden-gate, and somebody came whistling up 
the path. The man vanished as if by magic. 
While I looked, he was gone. It seemed to me 
that I did not take my eyes off him ; but where 
he went to, or what became of him, I knew not. 

" Anybody at home ?" called out Tom Coney, 
as he broke off his whistling and opened the 
hall-door. 

" All right, Tom. Come along." 

And, to tell the truth, I was not sorry to see 
Tom's hearty face. He had stayed away from 
evening service to sit with his mother. 

** I say, Tom, did you see any fellow on the 
snow there, as j^ou came in ?" 

'* On the snow where ?" asked Tom. 

'* There ; close before the shrubs." And I 
pointed the opposite spot out to him, and told 
him what had happened. Tom, one of the most 
practical fellows living, more so, I think, than 
even Tod, and with less imagination than an 
ostrich, received the account with incredulity. 

*' You dropped asleep, Johnny, and fancied vC 

" I d\d not drop asleep, audi \ ^v^ tvox. ^'s^^^'i 



248 Johnny Ludlow. 

it. When you came into the garden, I was 
about to open the window and call to him." 

** Those headaches are downright stupefying 
things, Johnny. Jane has them, you know. One 
day I remember she fell asleep with a bad one, 
and woke up and said the sofa was on fire." 

" Tom, I tell you the man was there. A tall, 
strong-looking fellow with a beard. He was 
staring at the house with all his might, at this 
room, as it seemed to me, wanting to come 
forward, I think, but afraid to. He kept close 
to the laurels, as if he did not wish to be seen, 
forgetting perhaps that they were white and 
betrayed him. When you opened the gate, he 
was there." 

" It's odd, then, where he could have put him- 
self," said Tom Coney, not giving in an inch. 
" rU vow not a soul was there, man or woman, 
when I came up the path." 

"That's true. He- vanished in a moment. 
While I was looking at him he disappeared." 

*' Vanished ! Disappeared ! You talk as 
though you thought it a ghost, Johnny.*' 

"Ghost be hanged! It was some ill-doing 
tramp, I expect, trying to look if he might steal 
into the house." 

" Much you know of the ways of tramps, 

Johnny Ludlow ! Tramps don't come showing 

themselves on snow-lighted, open lawns, in the 

face and eyes of the front windows : they hide 

themselves in obscure \ied^^^ ^xv^X^-^^^^^j^. \.^ ^ 



Margaret Rymer, 249 

a case of headachy sleep, young man, and 
nothing else." 

" Look here, Tom. If the man was there, his 
footprints will be there ; if he was not, as you 
say, the snow will be smooth and level : come 
out and see." 

We went out at once, Tom catching up a 
stick in the hall, and crossed the lawn. I was 
right, and Tom wrong. Sure enough, there 
were the footprints, plenty of them, indented in 
the deep snow. Tom gave in then. 

" I wish to goodness I had seen him ! The 
fellow should not have got off scot-free, I can 
tell him that. What tremendous feet he must 
have I Just look at the size, Johnny. Regular 
crushers." 

" Don't you go and say again I was asleep ! 
He must have stepped back and got away 
through these laurels ; yes, here are the marks. 
I say, Tom " — dropping my voice to a whisper 
— ** perhaps he s here now." 

" We'll soon see that," said Tom Coney, 
plunging amid the laurels with a crash, and 
beating about with the stick. 

But there was no trace of him. Tom came 
out presently, covered with the beaten snow, 
and we went indoors ; he bearing round partly 
to his first opinion, and a little incredulous in 
spite of the foot-prints. 

"If any man was there, J oVvt\tv>j ^ \\o^ $iA$L V^ 
get away ? I don't see, ior m^j ^^xx., ^V-^ V^^ 



250 Johnny LtMow. 

could possibly want. A thief would have gone 
to work in a different manner." 

"Well, let it be so. I shall say nothing 
about it to them when they come home. Mrs. 
Todhetley's timid, you know ; she'd fancy the 
man was outside still, and be lying awake all 
night, listening for the smashing in of doors and 
windows." 

Cracking the fire into a blaze ; as much of a 
blaze, that is, as its dilapidated state allowed ; I 
called Thomas to light the lamp and shut the 
shutters. When I told him of the affair, bidding 
him not mention it, he took a different view of 
it altogether, and put it down to the score of 
one of the younger maid-servants. 

"TheyVe got sweethearts, Master Johnny, 
the huzzies have ; lots of sweethearts. One or 
the t'other of 'em is always a sidling sheepfaced 
up to the house, as though he didn't dare to say 
his legs was his own." 

They came in from church before the fire had 
burnt up, and the Squire scolded me for letting 
it go so low. The coal we get in Worcester- 
shire is the Staffordshire coal ; it does not burn 
up in a minute as London coal does ; it must 
have time. 

Nothing of course was said about the man ; I 

and Tom Coney — who stayed supper — held our 

tongues, as agreed upon. But I told Tod in 

going up to bed. He was sleepy, and did not 

think much of it, TVv^ l^.^t. ^^^, ^'s. \ ^csv\ld • 



Margaret Rymer. 251 

plainly perceive, that to any of them, when 
related, it did not seem to be much. They had 
not seen it as I had. 



Timberdale Rectory, a cosy, old-fashioned 
house, its front walls covered with ivy, stood by 
itself amid pasture-land, a field's length from the 
church. Mrs. Todhetley sent me there on the 
Monday morning, to invite the rector, Herbert 
Tanerton, and his wife to dine with us the next 
evening, for we had had a prime cod-fish sent 
as a present from London. The Squire and 
Tod had gone out shooting. It was January 
weather; cold and bright, with a frosty sky. 
Icicles drooped from the trees, and the snow in 
Crabb Ravine was above my ankles. The 
mater had said to me, " I should go the road- 
way, Johnny ;" but I did not mind the snow. 

In Timberdale I met MarQ:aret Rvmer. She 

. had her black cloak on, and her natty little 

black bonnet ; and the gentle and refined face 

under it, with its mild brown eyes, put me more 

than ever in mind of her dead father. 

Does anybody remember her ? I told some- 
thing about her and her people in the first 
volume. When Thomas Rymer died, partly of 
cold on the chest, partly of a broken heart, 
Benjamin had again gone off, atvd M^x<gbx^\. 
continued to keep the bvismes.^ ?>^^'^?>- ^^^^ 



252 Johnny Ludlow. 

understood the drugs thoroughly. During all the 
months that had elapsed since, the son had not 
made his appearance at home. Timberdale 
would say, "Why does not Benjamin come 
back to carry on affairs in his father's place ?" 
but it got no satisfactory answer. Latterly, 
Timberdale had let Benjamin alone, and busied 
itself with Margaret. 

Six months ago, the Reverend Isaac Sale had 
come to Timberdale as curate. He was a plain, 
dark little man of sterling worth, and some 
thirty years of age — older than the Rector. 
Margaret Rymer met him at the Sunday School^ 
where she taught regularly, and he fell desper- 
ately in love with her — if it's not wrong to say . 
that of a parson. As a rule, men and women 
like contrasts; and perhaps the somewhat abrupt- 
mannered man with the plain and rugged features, 
had been irresistibly attracted by the delicate 
face of Margaret, and by her singularly gentle 
ways. In position she was not his equal ; but 
Mr. Sale made no secret of his attachment, or 
that he wanted Margaret to be his wife. Mrs. 
Rymer entirely opposed it: how was the business 
to be kept going without Margaret, she de- 
manded ; or herself, either } 

Mr. Sale had taken the curacy as a temporary 
thing. He was waiting for some expected ap- 
pointment abroad. When it fell to him, Margaret 
Rymer would have to choose between sailing 
with him as his wife, ot sV^.-^vyv^ ^x. V^^^ ^^\ 



Margaret Rymer, 253 

giving him up for good. So said Timber- 
dale. 

After standing to talk a bit with Margaret, 
who had come out on an errand for her mother, 
I ran on to the rectory. Mr. Tanerton and 
his wife were in the snug little bow-windowed 
front room. He, spare and colourless, young 
yet, with cold grey eyes and thin light whiskers, 
sat by the blazing fire of wood and coal, that 
went roaring and sparkling up the chimney. 
Somehow Herbert Tanerton gave you the idea 
of being always in a chill. Well meaning, and 
kind in the main, he was yet severe, taking too 
much note of offences, and expecting all the 
world, and especially his own flock, to be better 
than gold. 

His wife, kind, genial, and open-hearted, sat 
at the window, stitching a wristband for one of 
her husband's new shirts — he was as particular 
over them as he was over the parish sins — and 
glancing cheerfully out between whiles at the 
snowy landscape. When she was Grace Coney, 
and niece at the farm, we were very intimate ; 
a nice, merry-hearted, capable girl, rather tall 
and slender, with bright, dark hazel eyes, and a 
wide mouth that seem'ed always to be smiling 
to show its pretty white teeth. Seeing me 
coming, she ran to open the porch-door. As yet, 
she and Herbert had no children. 

** Come in, Johnny 1 Is it not a lo^^V^ ^^X 
Herbert thinks it the coldest moxtvvcv^-^^^^^^^^ 



254 Johnny Ludlow. 

had ; but I tell him that is because he does not 
feel very well. And he has been put out a little.**" 

" What about ?" I asked, as the Rector turned 
in his chair to shake hands with me. For she 
had said all that in his hearing. 

** Oh, there are one or two things. Sam 
MuUett " 

" Where's the use of talking of the stupid old 
man, Grace ?" cried the parson, crossly. "He 
is getting too old for his place." 

"And Mr. Sale is going to leave," added 
Mrs. Tanerton, as I sat down by the table, after 
giving them the invitation! " The appointment 
he expected has been offered to him ; it is a 
chaplaincy at the Bahama Islands. Mr. Sale 
has known of it for a week; and never told 
Herbert until yesterday." 

"He spoke to me in the vestry after morning 
service," said the Rector, in an injured tone. 
** And he said at the same time that he was not 
sure he should accept it ; it did not quite depend 
upon himself. I saw as clearly what he meant 
to imply as though he had avowed it ; that it 
depended upon that girl, Margaret Rymer. It 
is a preposterous thing. The idea of a clergy- 
man and a gentleman wanting to marry her / 
She keeps a chemist's shop !" 
' "It was her father who kept it," I said 
eagerly, for I liked Margaret Rymer, and did 
not care to hear her disparaged. " And he was 
a g-entleman born." 



Margaret Rymer. 255 

" What has that to do with it ?" retorted the 
parson, who was in one of his most touchy 
humours. " Had her grandfather been a duke, 
it would fmake no difference to what she is. 
Look at the mother !" 

" Margaret is a lady in mind, in looks, and in 
manners," I persisted. " If I loved Margaret 
Rymer I would marry her, though I were an 
archdeacon." 

" That's just like you, Johnny Ludlow ! you 
have no more sense than a child in some things," 
said the parson, crustily. Grace glanced up from 
her work and laughed ; and looked as if she 
would like to take part with me. 

" I never could have suspected Sale of such 
folly," went on the Rector, leaning sideways to 
warm his hands over the blaze. ** Grace, do 
you think that soup's ready ?" 

'' I will see," answered Grace, putting the 
wristband on the little work-table ; and she 
touched my shoulder playfully in passing. 

Herbert Tanerton sat in silence ; knitting his 
brow into lines. I took the chair on the other 
side the fire-place opposite to him, thinking of 
this and that, and fingering the tongs to help 
me : a habit I was often scolded for at home — 
that of fingering things. 

'' Look here, Mr. Tanerton. If they go all 
the way out to settle at the Bahamas, it will not 
signify there who Margaret has been here. 
Whether she may have \\e\^ed \tv \v« l-axNx^^ ^ 



256 Johnny Ludlow. 

business, or whether she may have been — as 
you said — a duke's grand-daughter, and brought 
up accordingly, it will be all one to the Bahamas. 
Mr. Sale need not say to the Bahamas, * My 
wife used to sell pennyworths of rhubarb and 
magnesia/ " 

" It is not that," crossly responded the Rector 
— ** what people will think or say ; it is for 
Salens own sake that I object. He cannot 
like the connection. A clergyman should marry 
in his own sphere." 

** I suppose men are differently constituted, 
clergymen as well as others," said I with depre- 
cation, remembering that I was a plain inex- 
perienced lad, and he was the Rector of 
Timberdale. Some persons don't care for 
social distinctions as others do, don't even see 
them : perhaps Mr. Sale is one." 

"He cares for probity and honour — he would 
not choose to ally himself to crime, to disgrace," 
sternly spoke the Rector. " And he would do 
that in marrying Margaret Rymer. Remember 
what the son did, that ill-doing Benjamin," 
added he, dropping his voice. ^* You know all 
about it, Johnny. The affair of the bank-note, 
I mean." 

And if Herbert Tanerton had said to me the 
affair of the moon and planets, I could not have 
been more surprised. *^ How did you get to 
know of it ?" I asked, when speech came to me. 

'' Mr. Rymer toVd m^ oyv \C\^ ^l^-scCcv^^?^. \ 



Margaret Rymer. 257 

was attending him spiritually. Of course, I 
have never spoken of it, even to my wife — I 
should not think of speaking of it ; but I consi- 
der that it lies in my duty to disclose the facts 
to Mr. Sale." 

'*0h no, don't — don't, please, Mr. Tanerton!" 
I cried out, starting up in a sort of distress, for 
the words seemed to take hold of me. " No 
one knows of it : no one but the Squire, and I, 
as you say, and Mrs. Rymer, and you, and Ben 
himself; Jelfs dead, you know. It need never 
be brought up again in this world ; and I dare 
say it never will be. Pray don't tell Mr. Sale 
— for Margaret's sake." 

" But I have said that I consider It my duty 
to tell him," replied the parson, steadily. '^ Here 
he comes !" 

I turned to the window, and saw Sale trudging 
up to the parsonage through the snowy field 
pathway, his black hair and red rugged face 
presenting a kind of contrast to the white glare 
around. Ugly, he might be called ; but it was 
a face to be liked, for all that. And the ring of 
his voice was true and earnest. 

The affair of the bank-note had helped to kill 
Thomas Rymer, and sent Mr. Ben off on his 
wanderings again. It was a bit of ill-luck for 
Ben, for he had really pulled up, was reading 
hard at his medical books, and become as steady 
as could be. Never since thea — so\s\^ \.^xv 
months ag^o now — had Betv \>^«i \v^ax^ ^^\ 

VOL. II. 



258 Johnny Ludlow. 

never had it been spoken of to man or woman. 
Need Herbert Tanerton disclose it to the curate? 
No : and I did not think he'd do it. 

"We were just talking of you," was the 
Rector's greeting to Mr. Sale as the curate came 
into the room. *' Bring a chair to the front of 
the fire : Johnny, keep your seat. Pm sure it's 
cold enough to make one wish to be in the fire 
to-day, instead of before it." 

" What were you saying about me ?*' asked 
Mr. Sale, drawing forward the chair to sit down, 
as bidden, and giving me a nod in his short way. 

*' Have you come to tell me your decision — 
to go or stay ?" asked the Rector, neglecting to 
answer the question. 

" Not this morning. My decision is not yet 
made. I came to tell you how very ill Jael Batty 
is. I'm not at all sure that she will get over this 
bout." 

" Oh," said the Rector, in a slighting tone, as 
if Jael Batty had no right to intrude herself into 
more momentous conversation. *^ Jael Batty is 
careless and indifferent in her duties, anything 
but what she ought to be, and makes her deaf- 
ness an excuse for not coming to church. Fll 
try and get out to see her in the course cf the 
day. She is always having these attacks. What 
we were speaking of was your friendship with 
Miss Rymer. 

Herbert Tanerton, as I have said, meant to 
fee kind, and 1 beVieve \v^ V^^ ^^o^\^'^ welfare 



Margaret Rymer. 259 

at heart ; but he had a severe way of saying 
things that seemed to take all the kindness out 
of his words. He was a great stickler for 
" duty," and if once he considered it was his 
duty to tell a fellow of his faults, tell he did, 
face to face, in the most uncompromising man- 
ner. He had decided that it was his duty to 
hold forth to Mr. Sale, and he plunged into the 
discourse without ceremony. The curate did 
not seem in the least put out, but talked back 
again, quietly and freely. I sat balancing the 
tongs over the fender and listening. 

" Miss Rymer is not my equal, you say," ob- 
served Sale, " I don't know that. Her father 
was a curate's son : I am a curate's son. Cir- 
cumstances, it would seem, kept Mr. Rymer 
down in the world. Perhaps they will keep me 
down — I cannot tell." 

'* But you are a gentleman in position, a 
clergyman : Rymer served customers," re- 
torted Mr. Tanerton, harping upon that b6te 
noire of his, the chemist's shop. " Can't you 
perceive the difference ? A gentleman ought 
to be a gentleman." 

^* Thomas Rymer was a gentleman, as I hear, 
in mind and manners and conduct ; educated, 
courteous, and " 

"He was one of the truest gentlemen ever 
met," I could not help putting in, though it 
interrupted the curate. **For my ^art^^\x^\v 



26o Johnny Ludlow. 

• 
speaking with him I forgot the counter he 

served at." 

" And a true Christian, I was about to say," 
added Mr. Sale. 

There was a pause. Herbert Tanerton, who 
had been fidgeting in his chair, spoke : 

" Am I mistaken in assuming that your accep- 
tancy of this chaplaincy depends upon Miss 
Rymer ?" 

" No, you are not mistaken," said Sale, 
readily. ^' It does depend upon her. If she will 
go with me — my wife — I shall accept it ; if she 
will not, I remain at home." 

*' Margaret is as nice as her father was ; she 
is exactly like him," I said. " Were I you, Mr. 
Sale, I should just take her out of the place and 
end it." 

" But if she won't come with me ?" returned 
he with a half smile. 

*' She is wanted at home," observed Herbert 
Tanerton, casting a severe look at me with his 
cold light eyes. " That shop could not get on 
without her." But Sale interrupted. 

**I cannot imagine why the son is not at 
home to attend to things. It is his place to be 
there doing it, not his sister's. He is inclined 
to be wild, it is said, and given to roving." 

" Wildness is not Benjamin Rymer s worst 
fault, or roving either," cried the Rector in his 
hardest voice, though he dropped it to a low 
key. And forthwith \ve o^^^^^ ^Jev^ X^-a^, -^ccA 



Margaret Ryiner. 261 

told the unfortunate story in a very few words. 
I let fall the tongs with a clatter. 

" I would not have mentioned this," pursued 
he, *' but that I consider it lies in my duty to 
tell you of it. To anyone else it would never 
be allowed to pass my lips ; it never has passed 
them since Mr. Rymer disclosed it to me a day 
or two before he died. Margaret Rymer may 
be desirable in herself; but there's her position, 
and — there's iMs. It is for your own sake I have 
spoken, Mr. Sale." 

Sale had sat still and quiet while he listened. 
There was nothing out\vard to show that the 
tale affected him, but instinct told me that it did. 
Just a question or two he put, as to the details, 
and then he rose to leave. 

" Will you not let it sway you ?'' asked the 
Rector, perseveringly, as he held out his hand 
to his curate. And 1 was sure he thought he 
had been doing him the greatest good in the 
world. 

" I cannot tell," replied Mr. Sale. 

He went out, walked across the garden, and 
through the gate to the field, with his head 
down. A dreadful listlessness — as it seemed to 
me — had taken the place of his brisk bearing. 
Just for a minute I stood in the parlour where I 
was, feeling as though I had had a shower of ice 
thrown down upon me and might never be warm 
again. Saying a short good-mornitv^, 1 x\x^V<^^ 
out after him, nearly upsetUtv^ "^x^^. T-^tv^^x.^"^ 



262 Johnny Ludlow. 

In the hall, and a basin of soup she was carrying 
in on a plate. How cruel it seemed ; how cruel! 
Why can't people let one another alone ? He 
was half-way across the field when I overtook 
him. 

*^ Mr. Sale, I want to tell you — I ought to 
tell you — that the story, as repeated to you by 
Mr. Tanerton, bears a worse aspect than the 
reality would warrant. It is true that Benjamin 
Rymer did change the note in the letter ; but 
that was the best and the worst of it. He had 
become mixed up with some reckless men when 
at Tewkesbury, and they persuaded him to get 
the stolen note changed for a safe one. I am 
sure he repented of it truly. When he came 
home later to his father's, he had left all his 
random ways and bad companions behind him. 
Nobody could be steadier than he was : kind to 
Margaret, considerate to his father and mother, 
attentive to business, and reading hard all his 
spare time. It was only through an ill fellow 
coming here to hunt him up — one Cotton, who 
was the man that induced him to play the trick 
with the note — that he was disturbed again.*' 

"How disturbed?" 

*^ He grew frightened, I mean, and went 
away. That fellow Cotton deserved hanging. 
When he found that Ben Rymer would have 
nothing more to do with him, or with the rest 
o/ the bad lot, he, itv revenge, told Jelf, the 
landlord of the . P\oMg\v ^wdi W^t^<3^ V:vN\Nfe.\^ 



Margaret Rymer. 263 

Cotton ran up a score, and decamped without 
paying), saying that it was Ben Rymer Vho had 
changed the note — for, you see, it had always 
remained a mystery to Timberdale. Jelf — he 
is dead now — was foolish enough to let Ben 
Rymer know what Cotton had said, and Ben 
made off in alarm. In a week's time Mr. 

1 

Rymer was dead. He had been ailing in mind 
and body for a long while, and the new fear 
finished him up." 

A pause ensued. Sale broke it. " Did Miss 
Rymer know of this T 

" Of Ben and the bank-note ? I don't believe 
she knows of it to this hour." 

'* No, I feel sure she does not," added Sale, 
speaking more to himself than to me. " She is 
truth and candour itself ; and she has repeatedly 
said to me she cannot tell why her brother keeps 
away ; cannot imagine why." 

" You see," I went on, " no one knows of it, 
save myself, but Squire Todhetley and Mr. 
Tanerton. We should never, never think of 
bringing it up, any one of us ; Mr. Tanerton only 
spoke of it, as he said, because he thought he 
ought to tell you; he will never speak of it again. 
Indeed, Mr. Sale, you need not fear it will be 
known. Benjamin Rymer is quite safe." 

'* What sort of a man is he, this Benjamin ?" 
resumed Sale, halting at the outer gate of the 
field as we were going through \\.. '^ \J^^ Nic^a. 
father, or like the mother V' 



264 Johnny Ludlow. 

" Like the mother. But not as vulgar as she 
is. Ben has been educated \ she was not : and 
though he does take after her, there's a little bit 
of his father in him as well. Which makes a 
great difference." 

Without another word, Mr. Sale turned 
abruptly off to the right, as though he were 
going for a country ramble. I shut the gate, 
and made the best of my way home, bearing 
back the message from the Rector and Grace 
— that they'd come and help eat the codfish. 

The Reverend Isaac Sale was that day sorely 
exercised in mind. The story he had heard 
shook his equanimity to the centre. To marry 
a young lady whose brother stood a chance of 
being prosecuted for felony, looked like a very 
black prospect indeed ; but, on the other hand, 
Margaret at least was innocent, and he loved 
and respected her with his whole heart and soul. 
Not until the evening was his mind made up ; he 
had debated the question with himself in all its 
bearings (seated on the stump of a snowy tree) ; 
and the decision he arrived at, was — to take 
Margaret all the same. H e could not leave her. 

About nine o'clock he went to Mrs. Rymer's. 
The shop was closed, and Mr. Sale entered by 
the private door. Margaret sat in the parlour 
alone, reading ; Mrs. Rymer was out. In her 
soil black dress with its bit of white frilling at 
t/je throat, Margaret d\d xvo\.\ooV7it\^>Js\vcv^\^^ 



Margaret Rymer. 265 

her nearly twenty years. Her mild brown eyes 
and tale-telling cheeks lighted up at the entrance 
of the curate. Letting her nervous little hand 
meet his strong one, she would have drawn a 
chair forward for him, but he kept her standing 
by him on the hearth-rug. 

'* I am come this evening to have some final 
conversation with you, Margaret, and I am glad 
your mother is out," he began. " Will you hear 
me, my dear ?" 

" You know I am always glad to hear you," 
she said, in a low, timid tone. And Mr. Sale 
made no more ado, but turned and kissed her. 
Then he released her hand, sat down opposite 
to her on the other side of the hearth, and en- 
tered on his argument. 

It was no more, no other, than she had heard 
from him before — the whole sum and substance 
of it consisted of representations why he must 
accept this chaplaincy at the Bahamas, and why 
she must accompany him thither. In the midst 
of it Margaret burst into tears. 

'* Oh, Isaac, why prolong the pain ?" she said. 
•* You know I ca7i7tot go : to refuse is as painful 
to me as to you. Don't you see that I have no 
alternative but to remain here ?" 

''No, I do not see it," replied Mr. Sale, 
stoutly. ** I think your mother could do with- 
out you. She is an active, bustling woman, 
hardly to be called middle-aged yet. ll vs. ^'^x. 
right that you should sacrvfvce y ovxx^^l •sv.^^^^^'^ 



266 Johnny Ludlow. 

prospects in life. At least, it seems to me that 



it is not." 



Margaret's hand was covering her face ; the 
silent tears dropped through her fingers. To 
see him depart, leaving her behind, was a pros- 
pect intensely bitter. Her heart ached when 
she thought of it : but she saw no hope of its 
being otherwise. 

" It is a week and a day since I told you that 
the promotion was at length offered me," re- 
sumed Mr. Sale, "and we seem to be not any 
nearer a decision than we were then. I have 
kept it to myself and said nothing about it 
abroad, waiting for you to speak to me, Mar- 
garet ; and the Rector — to whom I at length 
spoke yesterday — is angry with me, and says 
I ought to have told him at once. In three 
days from this — on Thursday next — I must 
give an answer : accept the post, or throw 
it up." 

Margaret took her hand from her face. Mr. 
Sale could see how great was the conflict at 
work within her. 

" There is nothing to wait for, Isaac. I wish 
there was. You must go by yourself, and 
leave me." 

" I have told you that I will not. If you stay 
here, I stay." 

** Oh, pray don't do that ! It would be so 
int^ns,^ a disappomlme.xvt to ^ou to ^ive it up." 

" The greatest dvsap^ovvv\.rcv^\\X. \ V-SiM^ ^m^\ 



Margaret Rymer. 267 

had in life," he answered. " You must go 
with me." 

" I wish I could ! I wish I could ! But it 
is impossible. My duty lies here, Isaac. I 
wish you could see that fact as strongly as I see 
it. My poor father always enjoined me to do 
my duty, no matter at what personal cost. 

*' It is your brother s duty to be here, Margaret; 
not yours. Where is he ?" 

"In London, I believe," she replied, and a 
faint colour flew into her pale face. She put up 
her handkerchief to hide it. 

It had come to Margaret's knowledge that 
during the past few months her mother had 
occasionally written to Benjamin. But Mrs. 
Rymer would not allow Margaret to write or 
give her his address. It chanced, however, that 
about a fortnight ago Mrs. Rymer incautiously 
left a letter on the table, addressed to him, and 
her daughter saw it. When, some days subse- 
quently, Mr. Sale received the offer of the 
chaplaincy, and laid it and himself before Mar- 
garet, urging her to accompany him, saying that 
he could not go without her, she took courage 
to write to Benjamin. She did not ask him to 
return and release her ; she only asked him 
whether he had any intention of returning, and, 
if so, when ; and she gave him in simple words 
the history of her acquaintanceship with Mr. Sale, 
and said that he wanted her to ^o oaxX. nqvCcvXvvccv 
to the Bahamas. To this letter ^^x^'SLt^'tV^^ w>x 



268 Johufiy Ludlow. 

received any answer. She therefore concluded 
that it had either not reached her brother, or 
else that he did not mean to return at all to 
Timberdale ; and so she gave up all hopes of it 

" Life is not very long, Margaret, and God has 
placed us in it to do the best we can in all 
ways; for Him first, for social obligations after- 
wards. But He has not meant it to be all trial, 
all self-denial. If you and I part now, the pro- 
bability is that we part for ever. Amid the 
worlds chances and changes we may never 
meet again, howsoever much our wills might 
prompt it.'* 

" True," she faintly answered. 

*' And I say that you ought not to enforce this 
weighty penance upon me and yourself. It is 
for your brother's sake, as I look upon it, that 
you are making the sacrifice, and it is he, not 
you, who ought to be here. Why did he go 
away ?" 

" I never knew," said Margaret, lifting her 
eyes to her lover's, and speaking so confidingly 
and earnestly that, had he needed proof to con- 
vince him she was ignorant of the story he 
had that day been regaled with, it would have 
amply afforded it. " Benjamin was at home, and 
so steady and good as to be a comfort to papa ; 
when quite suddenly he left without giving a 
reason. Papa seemed to be in trouble about it 
— it was but a few days before he died — and I 
have thought that p^tVva^s ^oo^ "^^^x^-auxtivcs. -^^% 



Margaret Rymer. 269 

unexpectedly called upon to pay some debt or 
other, and could not find the money to do it. 
He had not always been quite so steady." 

" Well, Margaret, I think '' 

A loud bang of the entrance-door, and a noisy 
burst into the room, proclaimed the return of Mrs. 
Rymer. Her mass of scarlet curls garnished her 
face on either side, like a couple of drooping 
bushes, looking particularly incongruous with 
her widow's cap and bonnet. Mr. Sale, rising 
to hand her a chair, broke off what he had been 
about to say to Margaret, and addressed Mrs. 
Rymer instead ; simply saying that the decision, 
as to her going out with him, or not going, could 
no longer be put off, but must be made. 

** It has been made,*' returned Mrs. Rymer, 
disregarding the offered chair, and standing to 
hold her boots, one after the other, to the fire. 
** Margaret can't go, Mr. Sale ; you know it." 

'* But I wish her to go, and she wishes it." 

** It's a puzzle to me what on earth you can 
see in her," cried Mrs. Rymer, flinging her grey 
muff on the table, and untying her black bonnet- 
strings to tilt the bonnet half-way off her head. 
Margaret won't have any money. Not a 'penny 
piece. 

** I am not thinking about money," replied 
the curate ; who somehow could never keep his 
temper long in the presence fof this strong- 
minded Amazon. *^ It is Margaret tK-a^t 1 nn-^w\.\ 
not money " 



270 Johnny Ludlow. 

"And it's Margaret, then, that you can't 
have," she retorted. " Who is to keep the shop 
on if she leaves it? — it can't go to rack and 
ruin. 

" I see you serving in it yourself sometimes." 

" I can serve the stationery — and the pickles 
and fish sauce — and the pearl barley," con- 
tended she, "but not the drugs. I don't 
meddle with them. When a prescription comes 
in to be made up, if I attempted to do it I might 
put opium for senna, and poison people. I have 
not learnt Latin, as Margaret has." 

" But, Mrs. Rymer " 

" Now we'll just drop the subject, sir, if it's 
all the same to you," loudly put in Mrs. Rymer. 
" I have told you before that Margaret must 
stay where she is, and keep the business to- 
gether for me and her brother. No need to 
repeat it fifty times over." 

She caught up her muff, and went out of the 
room and up the stairs as she delivered this 
final edict. Mr. Sale rose. 

" You see how it is," said Margaret, in a low 
tone of emotion, and keeping her eyelids down 
to hide the tears. " You must go without me. 
I cannot leave. I can only say, God speed you." 

** There are many wrongs enacted in this 
world, and this is one," he replied in a hard 
voice — not hard for her — as he took her hands 
in his, and stood before her. " I don't know 
that I altogether blame you, Margaret ; but it 



Margaret Rymer. 271 

is cruel upon you and upon me. Good- 
night/^ 

He went out quite abruptly without kissing 
her, leaving her alone with her aching heart. 



Tuesday afternoon, and the ice and the snow 
on the ground still. We were to dine at five 
o'clock — off the London codfish and a prime 
turkey — and the Coneys were coming in as well 
as the Rector and his wife. 

But Mrs. Coney did not come ; old Coney 
and Tom brought in word that she was not feel- 
ing well enough ; and the Tanertons only drove 
up on the stroke of five. As I helped Grace 
down from the pony-chaise, muffled up to the 
chin in furs, for the cold was enough to freeze 
an Icelander's nose off, I told her her aunt was 
not well enough to come. 

" Aunt Coney not well enough to come !" 
returned Grace. ** What a pity ! Have I time 
to run in to see her before dinner, Johnny ?" 

" That you've not. You are late, as it is. 
The Squire has been telling us all that the cod- 
fish must be in rags already." 

Grace laughed as she ran in; her husband 
followed her, unwinding the folds of his white 
woollen comforter. There was a general greet- 
ing and much laughter, especially when old 
Coney told Grace that her cheeks were as purple 



272 Johnny Ludlow. 

as his Sunday necktie. In the midst of it 
Thomas announced dinner. 

The codfish came up all right, and the oyster 
sauce was in Molly's best style — made of cream, 
and plenty of oysters in it. The turkey was 
fine : the plum-pudding better than good. Hugh 
and Lena sat at the table ; and altogether we 
had a downright merry dinner. Not a sober 
face among us, save Herbert Tanerton's : as to 
his face — well, you might have thought he was 
perpetually saying *' For what we are going to 

receive " It had struck eight ever so long 

when the last nut was eaten. 

**Will you run over with me to my aunt's, 
Johnny ?" whispered Grace, as she passed my 
chair. *' I should like to go at once, if you will." 

So I followed her out of the room. She put 
her wraps on, and we went trudging across the 
road in the moonlight, over the crunching snow. 
Grace's foot went into a soft rut, and she gave a 
squeal. 

•* I shall have to borrow a shoe while this 
dries," said she. ** Do you care to come in, 
Johnny ?" 

'' No, ril go back. I can run over for you 
presently." 

** Don't do that. One of the servants will see 
me safe across." 

*' All right. Tell Mrs. Coney what a jolly 
dmutv it was. We were all sorry she did not 



Margaret Rymer. 273 

Grace went in and shut the door. I was 
rushing back through our own gate, when some 
tall fellow glided out of the laurels, and put his 
hand on my arm. The moonlight fell full upon 
his face and its mass of reddish beard — and, to 
my intense surprise, I recognised Benjamin 
Rymer. I knew him then for the man who 
had been dodging in and out of the shrubs the 
night but one before. 

'* I beg your pardon," he said. " It is, as I 
am well aware, a very unusual and uncere- 
monious way of accosting you, or anyone else, 
but I want particularly to speak with you, in 
private, Mr. Ludlow." 

*' You were here on Sunday night !" 

" Yes. I saw the Squire and the rest of them 
go out to church, but I did not see you go, and 
I was trying to ascertain whether you were at 
home and alone. Tom Coney's coming in 
startled me and sent me away." 

We had been speaking in a low key, but Ben 
Rymer dropped his to a lower, as he explained. 
When he went away ten months before, it was 
in fear and dread that the truth of the escapade 
he had been guilty of, in regard to the bank- 
note, was coming out to the world, and that he 
might be called upon to answer for it. His 
mother had since assured him he had nothing 
to fear ; but Ben was evidently a cautious man, 
and preferred to ascertain that fact before 
showing himself openly at Timberdale. Kao^- 

VOL. II. \^ 



2/4 Johmiy Ludlow. 

ing I was to be trusted not to injure a fellow 
(as he was pleased to say), he had come down 
here to ask me my opinion as to whether the 
Squire would harm him, or not. There was no 
one else to fear now J elf was dead. 

" Harm you !" I exclaimed in my enthusiasm, 
my head full of poor, patient Margaret ; " why, 
the Squire would be the very one to hold you 
free of harm, Mr. Rymer. I remember his 
saying, at the time. Heaven forbid that he, 
having sons of his own, should put a stumbling- 
block in your path, when you were intending to 
turn over a new leaf He will help yon on, 
instead of harming you." 

" It's very good of him," said Ben. " I was an 
awful fool, and nothing else. That was the only 
dangerous thing I ever did, and I have been 
punished severely for it. I believe it was nothing 
but the fear and remorse it brought that induced 
me to pull up, and throw ill ways behind me." 

** I'm sure I am glad that you do," I answered, 
for something in Ben's tone seemed to imply 
that the bad ways were thrown behind him for 
good. " Are you thinking of coming back to 
Timberdale ?" 

** Until I shall have passed for a surgeon — 
which will not be long now. I have been with 
a surgeon in London as assistant, since I left 
here. It was a letter from Margaret that in- 
duced me to come down. She — do you know 
anything about Taer, Mr. "^o^xvyv^T 



Margaret Rymer. 275 

" I know that a parson wants her to go out 
with him to the Bahamas ; he is Tanerton's 
curate ; and that the pills and powders stand in 
the way of it." 

**Just so. Is he a good fellow, this par- 
son ?'' 

'* Good in himself. Not much to look at." 

" Maggie shall go with him, then. I should 
be the last to stand willingly in her way. You 
see, I have not known whether it was safe for 
me at Timberdale : or I should never have left 
Maggie to the shop alone. Does anyone know 
of the past — my past — ^besides you and the 
Squire ?*' 

'^ Yes ; Herbert Tanerton knows of it ; and 
— and the curate, Mr. Sale." And I told him 
what had passed only on the previous day, 
softening the Rector's speeches — and it seemed 
a curious coincidence, taken with this visit of 
Ben's, that it should have passed. His mouth 
fell as he listened. 

** It is another mortification for me," he said. 
" I should like to have stood as well as might 
be with Margaret's husband. Perhaps knowing 
this, he will not think more of her." 

" I don t believe he will let it make any differ- 
ence. I don't think he is the man to let it. 
Perhaps — if you were to go to him — and show 
him how straight things are with you now — 
and " 

" I broke down in my hesitaUtv^ sa^^^^^^nq?^' 

1% — 1 



276 Johnny Ludlow. 

Ben was years older than I, miles taller and 
broader, and it sounded like the mouse attempt- 
ing to help the lion. 

** Yes, I will go to him," he said slowly. " It 
is the only plan. And — ^and you think there's 
no fear that Herbert Tanerton will get talking 
to others ?" 

" I'm sure there's none. He is indoors now, 
dining with us. I am sure you are quite safe 
in all respects. The thing is buried in the past, 
and even its remembrance will pass away. The 
old postman, Lee, thinks it was Cotton ; the 
Squire persuaded him into the belief at the 
time. Where is Cotton T 

** Where all such rogues deserve to be — trans- 
ported. But for him and his friends I should 
never have done much that's wrong. Thank 
you for the encouragement you give." 

He half put out his hand to endorse the 
thanks, and drew it back, again ; but I put mine 
freely into his. Ben Rymer was Ben Rymer, 
and no favourite of mine to boot; but when a 
man has been down and is trying to get up 
again, he deserves respect and sympathy. 

** I was about here all last evening, hoping to 
get sight of you," he remarked, as he went out at 
the gate. " I never saw such light nights in all my 
life as these few last have been, what with the 
moon and the snow. Good-night, Mr. Johnny. — 
By the way, though, 'wK^t^ does the curate 



Margaret Rymer. ^77 

** At Mrs. Boughton's. Nearly the last house, 
you know, before you come to the churchyard." 

Ben Rymer went striding towards Timber- 
dale, putting his coat-collar well up, that he 
might not be recognised when going through 
the village, and arrived at the curate's lodgings. 
Mr. Sale was at home, sitting by the fire in a 
brown study, that seemed to have no light at 
all in it. Ben, as I knew later, sat down by 
him, and made a clean breast of everything: 
his temptation, his fall, and his later endeavours 
to do right. 

** Please God, I shall get on in the world 
now," he said ; ** and I think make a name in 
my profession. I don't wish to boast — and 
time of course will alone prove it — but I believe 
I have a special aptitude for surgery. My 
mother will be my care now ; and Margaret 
— as you are good enough to say you still 
wish for her — shall be your care in future. 
There are few girls so deserving as she is." 

" I know that," said the curate. And he 
shook Ben's hand upon it as heartily as though 
it had been a duke royal's. 

It was close upon ten when Ben left him. 
Mrs. Rymer about that same time was making 
her usual preparations before retiring — namely 
putting her curls in paper by the parlour fire. 
Margaret sat at the table, reading the Bible in 
silence, and so trying to school Vvet ^lOcCvw^V^-^ccx.. 
Her mother had been cross atv^ trj'vcv^ -si^ "Ocv^ 



278 Johnny Ludlow. 

evening : which did not mend the inward 
pain. 

"What are you crying for?" suddenly de- 
manded Mrs. Rymer, her sharp eyes seeing a 
tear fall on the book. 

" For nothing," faintly replied Margaret. 

'^Nothing! Don't tell me. You are frizzling 
your bones over that curate, Sale. Tm sure^^ 
is a beauty to look at." 

Margaret made no rejoinder ; and just then 
the young servant put in her head. 

" Be there aught else wanted, missis ?" 

" No," snapped Mrs. Rymer. " You can be 
off to bed." 

But, before the girl had shut the parlour door, 
a loud ring came to the outer one. Such late 
summonses were not unusual ; they generally 
meant a prescription to be made up. While the 
girl went to the door, Margaret closed the Bible, 
dried her eyes, and rose up to be in readiness. 

But instead of a prescription, there entered 
Mr. Benjamin Rymer. His mother stood up, 
staring, her hair a mass of white corkscrews. 
Ben clasped Margaret in his arms, and kissed 
her heartily. 

." My goodness me T cried Mrs. Rymer. " Is 
it you, Ben ?" 

" Yes, it is, mother," said Ben, turning to her. 
" Maggie dear, you look as though you did not 
know me." 

" Why, what on earth have you come for, in 



Margaret Rymer. 279 

this startling way ?*' demanded Mrs. Rymer. 
*' I don't believe your bed's aired." 

"Til sleep between the blankets — the best 
place to-night. What have I come for, you 
ask, mother ; I have come home to stay." 

Margaret was gazing at him, her mild eyes 
wide open, a spot of crimson hectic on either 
cheek. 

" For your sake, Maggie," he whispered, 
putting his arm round her waist, and bending 
his great red head (but not so red as his 
mother s) down on her. " I shall not much like 
to lose you, though, my little sister. The 
Bahamas are farther off than I could have 
wished." 

And, for answer, poor Margaret, what with 
one thing and another, sank quietly down in 
her chair, and fainted. Ben strode into the 
shop — as much at home amid the bottles as 
though he had never quitted them — and came 
back with some sal volatile. 

They were married in less than a month ; for 
Mr. Sale's chaplaincy would not wait for him. 
The Rector was ailing as usual, or said he was, 
and Charles Ashton came over to perform the 
ceremony. Margaret was in a bright dark silk, 
a light shawl, and a plain bonnet : they were to 
go away from the church door, and the boxes 
were already at the station. Ben, dressed well, 
and looking not unlike a gentleman, gave Ke^: 



28o Johmiy Ludlow. 

away ; but there was no wedding-party. Mrs. 
Rymer stayed at home in a temper; which I 
dare say nobody regretted ; she considered Mar- 
garet ought to have remained single. And after 
a day or two spent in the seaport town they were 
to sail from, regaling their eyes with the ships 
crowding the water, the Reverend Isaac Sale 
and his wife embarked for their future home in 
the Bahama Isles. 



V. 

THE OTHER EARRING. 

*' A ND if I could make sure that you two 

jl\. boys would behave yourselves and give 
me no trouble, possibly I might take you this 
year, just for a treat." 

" Behave ourselves !" exclaimed Tod, indig- 
nantly resentful. " Do you think we are two 
children, sir ?" 

" We would be as good as gold, sir,*' I added, 
turning eagerly to the Squire. 

" Well, Johnny, I'm not much afraid but that 
you would. Perhaps Til trust you both, then, 
Joe." 

" Thank you, father." 

** I shall see," added the Pater, thinking it 
well to put in a little qualification. " It's not 
quite a promise, mind. But it must be two or 
three years now, I think, since you went to 
them." 

'* It seems like six," said Tod. " I know it's 
four." 

We were talking of W orcester Races. At that 



282 Johnny Ludlow. 

period they used to take place early in August. 
Dr. Frost had an unpleasant habit of reassem- 
bling his pupils either the race week or the pre- 
vious one ; and to get over to the races was 
nearly as difficult for Tod and for me as though 
they had been run in California. Tohear the Pater 
say he might perhaps take us this year, just as 
the Midsummer holidays were drawing to an end, 
and say it voluntarily, was as good as it was 
unexpected. He meant it, too ; in spite of the 
added reservation : and Dr. Frost was warned 
that he need not expect us until the race week 
was at its close. 

The Squire drove into Worcester on the 
Monday, to be ready for the races on Tues- 
day morning, with Tod, myself, and the groom 
— Giles; and put up, as usual, at the Star 
and Garter. Sometimes he only drove in and 
back on each of the three race days ; or perhaps 
on two of them : this he could do very well from 
Crabb Cot, but it was a good pull for the horses 
from Dyke Manor. This year, to our intense 
gratification, he meant to stay in the town. 

The Faithful City was alre^tdy in a bustle. It 
had put on its best appearance, and had its 
windows cleaned : some of the shop-fronts were 
being polished off as we drove slowly up the 
streets. Families were, like ourselves, coming 
in : more would come before night. The theatre 
was open, and we went to it after dinner ; and 
_^ saw, I remember, *'Guy Mannering" (over which 



The Other Earrmg. 28 



^ 



the Pater went to sleep), and an after-piece with 
a ghost in it. 

The next morning I took the nearest way 
from the hotel to Sansome Walk, and went up 
it to call on one of our fellows who lived near 
the top. His friends always let him stay at 
home for the race week. A serVant-maid came 
running to answer my kqock at the door. 

*' Is Harry Parker at home ?" 

** No, sir/' answered the girl, who seemed to 
be cleaning up for the races on her own account, 
for her face and arms were all colly. '* Master 
Harry have gone down to Pitchcroft, I think." 

" I hope he has gone early enough I" said I, 
feeling disappointed. " Why, the races won't 
begin for hours yet." 

'* Well, sir," she said, •*! suppose there's a deal 
more life to be seen there than here, though it 
is early in the day." 

That might easily be. For of all solitary 
places Sansome Walk was, in those days, the 
dreariest, especially portions of it. What with 
the overhanging horse-chestnut trees, and the 
high dead wall behind those on the one hand, 
and the flat stretch of lonely fields on the other, 
Sansome Walk was what Harry Parker used to 
call a caution. You might pass through all its 
long length from end to end and never meet 
a soul. 

Taking that narrow by-path on my way back 
that leads into the Tything by St. Oswald's. 



284 Johnny Ludlozv. 

Chapel, and whistling a bar of the sweet song I 
had heard at the theatre over night, ** There*s 
nothing half so sweet in life as loves young 
dream," somebody came swiftly advancing down 
the same narrow path, and I prepared to back 
sideways to give her room to pass — a young 
woman with a large shabby shawl on, and the 
remains of faded gentility about her. 

It v/as Lucy Bird ! As she drew near, lifting 
her sad sweet eyes to mine with a mournful 
smile, my heart gave a great throb of pity. 
Faded, worn, anxious, reduced 1 — oh, how un- 
like she was, poor girl, to the once gay and 
charming Lucy Ashton !" 

" Why, Lucy 1 I did not expect to see you in 
Worcester ! We heard you had left it months 
ago." 

** Yes, we left last February for London," she 
answered. *' Captain Bird has only come down 
for the races.'' 

As she took her hand from underneath her 
shawl to respond to mine, I saw that she was 
carrying some cheese and a paper of cold cooked 
meat. She must have been buying the meat 
at the cook's shop, as the Worcester people 
called it, which was in the middle of High 
Street. Oh ! what a change — what a change for 
the delicately-bred Lucy Ashton ! Better that 
her Master of Ravenswood had buried his horse 
and himself in the flooded land, as the other one 
did, than have brought her to this. 



The Other Earring. 285 

** Where are you going to, down this dismal 
place, Lucy ?" 

" Home," she answered. " We have taken 
lodgings at the top of Sansome Walk." 

" At one of the cottages a little beyond 
it?" 

" Yes, at one of those. How are you all, 
Johnny ? How is Mrs. Todhetley ?" 

" Oh, she's first-rate. Got no neuralgia just 
now." 

'* Is she at Worcester ?" 

" No, at Dyke Manor. She would not come. 
The Squire drove us in yesterday. We are at 
the Star." 

" Ah ! yes," she said, her eyes taking a dreamy, 
far-off look. '* I remember staying at the Star 
myself one race week. Papa brought me. It 
was the year I left school." 

How things were altered with her ! Carrying 
home papers of cheese and cooked meat ! 

" Have you heard or seen anything of my 
brothers lately, Johnny Ludlow ?" 

" Not since we were last staying at Crabb 
Cot. We went to Timberdale Church one day 
and heard your brother Charles preach ; and we 
dined once with Robert at the Court, and he and 
his wife came once to dine with us. But — have 
you not seen your brother James here ?" 

** No — and I would rather not see him. He 
would be sure to ask me painful questions." 

*' But he is always about the streets here^ ^e^- 



2 86 Johnny Ludlozv. 

ing after his patients, Lucy. I wonder you have 
not met him." 

** We only came down last Saturday : and I go 
out as little as I can," she said; a kind of 
evasiveness — or rather, perhaps, hesitation — in 
her tone and manner that struck me. *" I did 
think I saw James's carriage before me just now 
as I came up the Tything. It turned into 
Britannia Square." 

■^ I dare say. We met it yesterday in Sidbury 
as we drove in." 

" His practice gets large, I suppose. You 
say Charles was preaching at Timberdale ?" she 
added : '* was Herbert Tanerton ill ?" 

*' Yes. Ailing, that is. Your brother came 
over to take the duty for the day. Will you call 
at the Star to see the Squire, Lucy ? You know 
how pleased he would be." 

** N — o," she answered, her manner still more 
hesitating, just as though she were in a peck of 
inward doubt ; and she seemed to be debating 
some matter mentally. " I — I would have come 
after dark, had Mrs. Todhetley been there. At 
least I think I would — I don't know." 

" You can come all the same, Lucy." 

" But no — that would not have done," she 
went on to herself, in a half whisper. ** I might 
have been seen. It would never have done to 
risk it. The truth is, Johnny, I ought to see 
Mrs. Todhetley on a matter of business. 
Though even if she ^sr^te \v^t^A ^^ w^v V\\^-^ 



The Other Earring. 287 

that I might dare to see her. It is — not exactly 
my own business — and — and mischief might 
come of it/' 

*^ Is it anything I can say to her for you ?'' 

" I — think — you might," she returned slowly, 
pausing, as before, between her words. *' I 
know you are to be trusted, Johnny." 

" That I am* Td not forget a single item of 
the message." 

" I did not mean in that way. I shall have 
to entrust to you a private matter — a disagree- 
able secret. It is a long while that I have 
wanted to tell some of you ; ever since last 
winter : and yet, now that the opportunity has 
come that I may do it, I scarcely dare. The 
Squire is hasty and impulsive, his son is proud ; 
but I think I may confide in you, Johnny." 

" Only try me, Lucy." 

"Well, I will. I will. I know you are true 
as steel. Not this morning, for I cannot stop 
— and I am not prepared. Let me see : 
where shall we meet again ? No, no, Johnny, 
I cannot venture to the hotel : it is of no use to 
suggest that." 

" Shall I come to your lodgings ?" 

She just shook her head by way of dissent, 
and remained in silent thought. I could not 
imagine what it was she had to tell me that re- 
quired all this preparation ; but it came into my 
mind to be glad that I had chanced lo %,cy \!csax. 
morning to Harry Parker's. 



288 Johnny Ludlow. 

"Suppose you meet me in Sansome Walk 
this afternoon, Johnny Ludlow? Say at" — 
considering — *' yes, at four o'clock. That will 
be a safe hour, for they will be on the racecourse 
and out of the way. People will, I mean," she 
added hastily : but somehow I did not think 
she had meant people. *' Can you come ?" 

** I will manage it." 

" And, if you don't meet me at that time — it 
is just possible that I may be prevented coming 
out — I will be there at eight o'clock this evening 
instead," she continued. " That I know I can 
do." 

" Very well. I'll be sure to be there:" 

Hardly waiting another minute to say good- 
morning, she went swiftly on. I began wonder- 
ing what excuse I could make for leaving the 
Squire's carriage in the midst of the sport, and 
whether he would let me leave it. 

But the way for that was paved without any 
effort of mine. At the early lunch, the Squire, 
in the openness of his heart, offered a seat in the 
phaeton to some old acquaintance from Hartley. 
Which of course would involve Tod's sitting 
behind with me, and Giles's being left out alto- 
gether. 

'* Catch me at it !" cried Tod. " You can do 
as you please, Johnny : I shall go to the course 
on foot." 

*' I will also," I said — though you,, naturally, 
understand that 1 \\ad tvevex ^tj^^cX^^ \.^ ^w. 



The O titer Earring. 289 

elsewhere than behind. And I knew it would 
be easier for me to lose Tod in the crowd, and 
so get away to keep the appointment, than it 
would have been to elude the Squire's question- 
ing as to why I could want to leave the carriage. 

Lunch over. Tod said he would go to the 
Bell, to see whether the Letsoms had come in ; 
and we started off. No ; the waiter had seen 
nothing of them. Onwards, down Broad Street 
we went, took the Quai, and so got on that way 
to Pitchcroft — as the racecourse is called. The 
booths and shows were at this end, and the 
chief part of the crowd. Before us lay stretched 
the long expanse of the course, green and level 
as a bowling-green. The grand-stand (com- 
paratively speaking a new erection there) lay 
on the left, higher up, the winning-chair and 
distance-post facing it. Behind the stand, flank- 
ing all that side of Pitchcroft, the beautiful river 
Severn flowed along between its green banks, 
the houses of Henwick, opposite, looking down 
upon it from their great height, over their slop- 
ing gardens. It was a hot day, the blue sky 
dark and cloudless. 

** True and correct card of all the running 
horses, gentlemen : the names, weights, and 
colours o' the riders !" The shouted-out words, 
echoing on all sides from the men who held 
these cards for sale, are repeated in my brain 
now ; as are other sounds and s»\^\.^. \ ^"^ss. 
somewhat older then thau 1 \\ad \i^^^ \ \^>^^- '^ 

VOL. 11. V9 



290 Johmiy Ludlow, 

was not so very long since those shows, ranged 
around there side by side, a long line of them, 
held the greatest attraction for me in life. " Guy 
Mannering," the past night, had been very nice 
to see, very enjoyable ; but it possessed not the 
nameless charm of that first '' play " I went to 
in Scowton's Show on the racecourse. That 
charm could never come again. And I was but 
a lad yet. 

The lightning with which the play opened 
had been real lightning to me ; the thunder, real 
thunder. The gentleman who stood, when the 
curtain rose, gorgeously attired in a scarlet 
doublet slashed with gold (something between 
a king and a bandit), with uplifted face of terror 
and drawn sword, calling the war of the ele- 
ments '^tremendious," was to me a greater 
potentate than nearly the world could contain ! 
The young lady, his daughter, in ringlets and 
spangles, who came flying on in the midst of 
the storm, and fell at his feet with upraised 
arms and a piteous appeal, *' Alas ! my father, 
and will you not consent to my marriage with 
Alphonso ?" seemed more lovely to me than 
the Sultanas in the *' Arabian Nights," or the 
Princesses in Fairyland. I sat there entranced 
and speechless. A new world had opened to 
me — a world of delight. For weeks and weeks 
afterwards, that play, with its wondrous beauties, 
its shifting scenes, was present to me sleeping 
and waking. 



The Other Earring, 291 

The ladies in spangles, the gentlemen in 
slashed doublets, were on the platforms of their 
respective shows to-day, dancing for the benefit 
of Pitchcroft. Now and again a set would leave 
off, the music ceasing also, to announce that the 
performance was about to commence. I am 
not sure but I should have gone up to see one, 
but for the presence of Tod and Harry Parker 
— whom we had met on the course. There were 
learned pigs, and spotted calves, and striped 
zebras ; and gingerbread and cake stalls ; and 
boat-swings and merry-go-rounds — which had 
made me frightfully sick once when Hannah let 
me go in one. And there was the ever-increas- 
ing throng, augmenting incessantly; carriages, 
horsemen, shoals of foot-passengers ; conjurers 
and fortune-tellers ; small tables for the game 
of *' thimble-rig," their owners looking out very 
sharply for the constables who might chance to 
be looking for them ; and the movable exhibi- 
tions of dancing dolls and Punch and Judy. Ay, 
the sounds and the sights are in my brain now. 
The bands of the different shows, mostly attired 
in scarlet and gold, all blowing and drumming 
as hard as they could drum and blow; the 
shouted-out invitations to the admiring spec- 
tators, " Walk up, ladies and gentlemen, the 
performance is just a-going to begin ;" the 
scraping of the blind fiddlers ; the screeching of 
the ballad-singers ; the sudden uproar as a stray 
dog, attempting to cross the coMts^> \^\\>\\^X^^cfS. 

1^ — ^ 



292 Johnny Ludlow. 

it; the incessant jabber and the Babel of 
tongues ; and the soft roll of wheels on the turf. 

Hark ! The bell rings for the clearing of the 
course. People know what it means, and those 
who are cautious hasten at once to escape under 
the cords on either side. The gallop of a horse 
is heard, its rider, in his red coat and white 
smalls, loudly smacking his whip to effect the 
clearance. The first race is about to begin. 
All the world presses towards the environs of 
the grand-stand to get a sight of the several 
horses entered for it. Here they come 5 the 
jockeys in their distinguishing colours, trying 
their horses in a brisk canter, after having been 
weighed in the paddock, A few minutes, and 
the start is effected ; they are off! 

It is only a two-mile heat. The carriages 
are all drawn up against the cords ; the foot- 
passengers press it ; horsemen get where they 
can. And now the excitement is at its height ; 
the rush of the racers coming in to the winning- 
post breaks on the ear. They fly like the wind. 

At that moment I caught sight of the sharply 
eager face of a good-looking, dashing man, got 
up to perfection — you might have taken him for 
a lord at least. Arm-in-arm with him stood 
another, well-got-up also, as a sporting country 
gentleman ; he wore a green cut-away coat, top- 
boots, and a broad-brimmed hat which shaded 
his face. If I say ''got-up," it is because I knew 
the one, and I fancied I knew the other. But 



The Other Earring, 293 

the latter's face was partly turned from me, and 
hidden, as I have said, by the hat. Both 
watched the swiftly-coming race-horses with ill- 
concealed anxiety : and both, as well-go t-iip 
gentlemen at ease, strove to appear indifferent. 

'^ Tod, there's Captain Bird." 

'* Captain Bird ! Where ! You are always 
fancying things, Johnny." 

"A few yards lower down. Close to the 
cords." 

" Oh, be shot to the scoundrel, and so it 
is ! V/hat a swell ! Don't bother. Here they 
come." 

" Blue cap wins !" ** No ; red sleeves gains 
on him !" *' Yellow stripes is first !" " Pink 
jacket has it 1" " By Jove ! the bay colt is dis- 
tanced !" '' Purple wins by a neck !" 

With the hubbub of these called-out different 
versions from the bystanders echoing on our 
ears, the horses flew past in a rush and a whirl. 
Black cap and white jacket was the winner. 

Amid the crowding and the pushing and the 
excitement that ensued, I tried to get nearer to 
Captain Bird. Not to see him : it was im- 
possible to look at him with any patience and 
contrast his dashing appearance with that of poor, 
faded Lucy's : but to see the other man. For 
he put me in mind of the gentleman-detective, 
Eccles, who had loomed upon us at Crabb Cot 
that Sunday afternoon in the past winter, 
polished off the sirloin of beef, cram^ccved tiss:. 



294 Johnny Ludlow. 

Squire with anecdotes of his college h'fe, and 
finally made off with the other earring. 

You can turn back to the paper called Mrs. 
Todhetley's Earrings, and recall the circum- 
stances. How she lost an earring out of her 
ear : a beautiful earring of pink topaz encircled 
with diamonds. It was supposed a tramp had 
picked it up ; and the Squire went about it to 
the police at Worcester. On the following 
Sunday a gentleman called introducing himself 
as Mr. Eccles, a private detective, and asking 
to look at the other earring. The Squire was 
marvellously taken with him, ordered in the 
beef, not long gone out from the dinner, and 
was as eager to entrust the earring to him as 
he was to take it That Eccles had been a 
gentleman once — at least, that he had mixed 
with gentlemen, was easy to be seen : and per- 
haps had also been an Oxford man, as he as- 
serted; but he was certainly a swindler now. 
He carried off the earring ; and we had never 
seen him, or it, from that day to this. But I 
did think I saw him now on the racecourse. In 
the side face, and the tall, well-shaped figure of 
the top-booted country gentlemen, with the 
heavy bunch of seals hanging to his watch- 
chain, who leaned on that man Captain Bird's 
arm, there was a great resemblance to him. 
The other earring, lost first, was found in the 
garden under a small fir-tree when the snow 
melted away, where it must have dropped un- 



The Other Earring. 295 

seen from Mrs. Todhetley's ear, as she stopped 
in the path to shake the snow from the 
tree. 

But the rush of people, sweeping by, was 
too great. Captain Bird and he were nowhere 
to be seen. In the confusion also I lost Tod 
and Harry Parker. The country gentleman I 
meant to find if I could, and went about looking 
for him. 

The carriages were coming away from their 
standing-places near the ropes to drive about 
the course, as was the custom in those days. 
Such a thing as taking the horses out of a car- 
riage and letting it stay where it was until the 
end of the day, was not known on Worcester 
racecourse. You might count the carriages- 
and-four there then, their inmates exchanging 
greetings with each other in passing, as they 
drove to and fro. It was a sight to see the 
noblemen's turn-outs ; the glittering harness, 
the array of servants in their sumptuous liveries ; 
for they came in style to the races. The 
meeting on the course was the chief local event 
of the year, when all the county assembled to 
see each other and look their best. 

" Will you get up now, Johimy ?" 

The soft bowling of the Squire's carriage- 
wheels arrested itself, as he drew up to speak 
to me. The Martley old gentleman sat with 
him, and there was a vacant place by Giles 
behind. 



296 Johnny Ludlow. 

" No thank you, sir. I would rather be on 
foot." 

" As you will, lad. Is your watch safe ?" 

'' Oh, yes/* 

'^ Where's Joe r 

** Somewhere about. He is with Harry 
Parker. I have only just missed them." 

" Missed them ! Oh, and I suppose you are 
looking for them. A capital race, that last." 

" Yes, sir." 

" Mind you take care of yourself, Johnny," 
he called back, as he touched up Bob and 
Blister, to drive on. I generally did take care 
of myself, but the Squire never forgot to remind 
me to do it. 

The afternoon went on, and my search with 
it in the intervals of the racing. I could see 
nothing of those I wanted to see, or of Tod 
and Harry Parker. Our meeting, or not meet- 
ing, was just a chance, amid those crowds and 
crowds of human beings, constantly moving. 
Three o'clock had struck, and as soon as the 
next race should be over — a four-mile heat — it 
would be nearly time to think about keeping 
my appointment with Lucy Bird. 

And now once more set in all the excitement 
of the running. A good field started for the 
four-mile heat, more horses than had run yet. 

I liked those four-mile heats on Worcester 
racecourse : when we watched the jockeys in 
their gay and varied colours twice round the 



The Other Earring, 297 

course, describing the figure of eight, and 
coming in, hot and panting, at the end. The 
favourites this time were two horses named 
" Swallower " and *^ Master Ben." Each horse ' 
was well liked : and some betters backed one, 
some the other. Nov/ they are off! 

The running began slow and steady ; the 
two favourites just ahead ; a black horse (I 
forget his name, but his jockey wore crimson 
and purple) hanging on to them ; most of the 
other horses lying outside. The two kept 
together all the way, and as they came in for 
the final run the excitement was intense. 

*' Swallower has it by a neck !" " No, Master 
Ben heads him!" "Ben wins; Swallower 
loses !" " Swallower has it ; Ben's jockey is 
beat !*' and so on, and so on. Amid the shouts 
and the commotion the result was announced — 
a dead heat. 

So the race must be run again. I looked at 
my watch (which you may be sure I had kept 
carefully buttoned up under my jacket), won- 
dering whether I could stay for it. That was 
uncertain ; there was no knowing how long an 
interval would be allowed for breathing-time. 

Suddenly there arose a frightful commotion 
above all the natural commotion of the course. 
People rushed towards one point; horsemen 
galloped thither, carriages bowled cautiously in 
their wake. The centre of attraction appeared 
to be on the banks of the river, just be'^o\^Ji^lc\.^ 



298 Johnny Ludlow. 

grand-stand. What was it ? What had oc- 
curred ? The yells were deafening; the pushing 
fearful. At last the cause was known : King 
Mob was ducking some offender in the Severn. 

To get near, so as to see anything of the fun, 
was impossible; it was equally impossible to 
gather what he had done ; whether picked a 
pocket, or cheated at betting. Those are the 
two offences that on Pitchcroft were then deemed 
deserving of the water. This time, I think, it 
was connected with betting. 

Soon the yells became louder and nearer. 
Execrations filled the air. The crowd opened, 
and a wretched-looking individual emerged out 
of it on the hard run, his clothes dripping water, 
his lank hair hanging about his face like the 
slim tails of so many rats. 

On he came, the mob shouting and hallooing 
in his wake, and brushed close past me. Why ! 
it was surely the country gentleman I had seen 
with Bird! I knew him again at once. But 
whether it was the man Eccles or not, I did not 
see ; he tore by swiftly, his head kept down. A 
broad-brimmed hat came flying after him, pro- 
pelled by the feet of the crowd. He stooped to 
catch it up, and then kept on his way right 
across the course, no doubt to make his escape 
from it. Yes, it was the same man in his top- 
boots. I was sure of that. Scampering close 
to his heels, fretting aitvd yelUng furiously, was 
a half-starved white do^ n^v^Ocv ^ xnxv V^x.^^ xv^^ 



The Other Earring. 299 

to its tail. I wondered which of the two was 
the more frightened — the dog or the man. 

And standing very nearly close to me, as I 
saw then, was Captain Bird. Not running, not 
shouting ; simply looking on with a countenance 
of supreme indifference, that seemed to express 
no end of languid contempt of the fun. Not a 
sign of recognition crossed his face as the half- 
drowned wight swept past him : nobody could 
have supposed he ever set eyes on him before. 
And when the surging crowd had passed, he 
sauntered away in the direction of the saddling- 
place. 

But I lost the race. Though I stayed a little 
late, hoping to at last see the horses come out 
for the second start, and to count how many of 
the former field would compete for it, the 
minutes flew all too swifdy by, and I had to go, 
and to put the steam on. Making a bolt 
across Pitchcroft and up Salt Lane, went I, full 
split, over the Tything slantwise, and so down 
to Sansome Walk. St. Oswald's clock was 
tinkling out four as I reached it. 

Lucy did not come. She had indicated the 
spot where the meeting should be ; and I waited 
there, making the best I could of it;- cooling 
myself, and looking out for her. At half-past 
four I gave her up in my own mind ; and when 
five o'clock struck, I knew it was useless to stay 
longer. So I began to take tvvj n^^-^ X^raiiSsL 
slower than I had come ; and otv X\xttvY^^ ^viX.'^^ 



300 Johnny Ludlow. 

St. Oswald's, I saw the carriages and people 
flocking up on their way from Pitchcroft. The 
first day's racing was over. 

There was a crowd at the top of Salt Lane, 
and I had to wait before I could get across. In 
the wake of a carriage-and-four that was turning 
out of it came Captain Bird, not a feather of 
his plumage ruffled, not a speck (save dust) on 
his superfine coat, not a wristband soiled. He 
had not been ducked, if his friend had. 

** How d'ye do, Master Ludlow ?" said he, 
with a grandly patronising air, and a flourish of 
his cane, as if it were a condescension to notice 
me. And I answered him civilly ; though he 
must have been aware I knew what a scamp he 
was. 

'' I wish he'd steal away to America some 
moonlight night," ran my thoughts, '' and leave 
poor Lucy in peace." 

The Squire's carriage dashed up to the hotel 
as I reached it, Tod sitting behind with Giles. 
I asked which of the two horses had won. 
Swallower : won by half a neck. The Squire 
was in a glow of satisfaction, boasting of the 
well-contested race. 

And now, to make things intelligible, I must 
refer again for a minute or two to that past 
paper. It may be remembered that when ** De- 
tective Eccles" called on us that Sunday after- 
noon, asking to look at the fellow earring to the 
oa^ Jost, Mrs. TodVvel\^7 \va.^ ^otv^ \ts. \.cfc ^^^ 



The Other Earring. 301 

C oneys', and the Squire sent me for her. When 
I got there, Lucy Bird was in the drawing-room 
alone, the Mater being upstairs with Mrs. 
Coney. Poor Lucy told me she had been 
spending a day or two at Timberdale Court (her 
happy childhood's home), and had come over 
to dine with Mr. and Mrs. Coney, who were 
always kind to her, she added with a sobbing 
sigh ; but she was going back to Worcester by 
the next train. I told her what I had come for 
— of the detective's visit and his request to see 
the other earring. Mrs. Todhetley felt nervous at 
meeting a real live detective, and asked me no 
end of questions as to what this particular one 
was like. I said he was no tiger to be afraid 
of, and described him as well as I could : a tall, 
slender, gentlemanly man, well-dressed; gold 
studs, a ring on his finger, a blue necktie, and a 
black moustache. Lucy (I had noticed at the 
time) seemed struck with the description ; but 
she made no remark. Before we turned in at 
our gate we saw her leave the Coneys' house, 
and come stepping through the snow on her 
way to the station. Since then, until now, we 
had not seen anything of Lucy Bird. 



The stars flickered through the trees in San- 
some Walk as I turned into it. A. ^vv^ \x<^\iy\si. 
/ had had to come 1 Some eivt^tVa\\vKv^^^'^ ^"^^ 



302 Johnny Ludlow. 

in full fling that evening at the Saracen's Head 
— a kind of circus, combined with rope-dancing. 
Worcester would be filled with shows during the 
race-week" (I don't mean those on Pitchcroft),, 
and we went to as many as we could get money 
for. We had made the bargain with Harry 
Parker on the course to go to this one, and 
during the crowded dinner Tod asked the 
Squire's leave. He gave it with the usual in- 
junctions to take care of ourselves, and on con- 
dition that we left our watches at home. So, 
there I was in a fix ; neither daring to say at 
the dinner-table that I could not go, nor daring 
to say what prevented it, for Lucy had bound 
me to secrecy. 

" What time is this thing going to be over 
to-night, Joe ?" had questioned the Squire, wha 
was drinking port wine with some more old 
gentlemen at one end of the table, as we rose 
to depart. 

'^ Oh, I don't know," answered Tod. " About 
ten o'clock, I dare say." 

^* Well, mind you come straight home, you two. 
I won't have you getting into mischief. Do you 
hear, Johnny T 

" What mischief do you suppose, sir, we are 
likely to get into ?" fired Tod. 

*'/don t know," answered the Squire. " When 
I was a young lad — younger than you — staying 
here for the races with my father — but we stayed 
at the Hop-pole, next doot, \q\C\cN\ n^^s^ \5cv^ ^^^v 



The Other Earring. 303 

Inn then — I remember we were so wicked one 
night as to go about ringing and knocking at all 
the doors " 

" You and your father, sir ?" asked Tod, in- 
nocently. 

"My father ! no !" roared the Squire. '* What 
do you mean, Joe ? How dare you ! My 
father go about the town knocking at doors and • 
ringing at bells ! How dare you suggest such an 
idea ! We left my father, sir, at the hotel with 
his friends at their wine, as you are leaving me 
with my friends here now. It was I and half-a- 
dozen other young rascals who did it — nlore 
shame for us. I can't be sure how many bell- 
wires we broke. The world has grown wiser 
since then, though I don't think it's better ; and 
— and mind you walk quietly home. Don't get 
into a fight, or quarrel, or anything of that kind. 
The streets are sure to be full of rough people 
and pickpockets." 

Harry Parker was waiting for us in the 
hotel gateway. He said he feared we should 
be late, and thought we must have been eat- 
ing dinner for a week by the time we took 
over it. 

^* I'm not coming with you. Tod," I said ; 
*^ ril join you presently." 

Tod turned round and faced me. " What on 
earth's that for, Johnny ?" 

" Oh, , nothing. I'll come soow. Xoxjl \^n^ 
go on. " 



304 Johnny Ludlow. 

" Suppose you don't get a place !" cried Parker 
to me. 

*' Oh, I shall get one fast enough : it won't be 
so crowded as all that." 

^' Now look here, lad," said Tod, with his face 
of resolution ; ** you are up to some dodge. What 

is It? 

'' My head aches badly," I said — and that was 
true. " I can't go into that hot place until I 
have had a spell of fresh air. But I will be sure 
to join you later, if I can." 

My headaches were always allowed. I had 
them rather often. Not the splitting, roaring 
pain that Tod would get in his head on rare 
occasions, once a twelvemonth, or so, when any- 
thing greatly worried him ; but bad enough in 
all conscience. He said no more ; and set off 
with Harry Parker up the street towards the 
Saracen's Head. 

The stars were flickering through the trees in 
Sansome Walk, looking as bright as though it 
were a frosty night in winter. It was cool and 
pleasant : the great heat of the day — which must 
have given me my headache — had passed. 
Mrs. Bird was already at the spot. She drew 
me underneath the trees on the side, looking 
up the walk as though she feared she had been 
followed. A burst of distant music crashed out 
and was borne towards us on the air : the circus 
band, at the Saracen's Head. Lucy still glanced 
back the way she had come. 



The Other Earring. 305 

" Are you afraid of anything, Lucy ?" 
'* There is no danger, I believe," she answered; 
'^ but I cannot help being timid : for, if what I 
am doing were discovered, I — I — I don t know 
what they would do to me." 

*' You did not come this afternoon." 
*^ No. I was very sorry, but I could not," 
she said, as we paced slowly about, side by side. 
** I had my shawl and bonnet on, when Edwards 
came in — a friend of my husband's, who is stay- 
ing with him. He had somehow got into the 
Severn, and looked quite an object, his hair and 
clothes dripping wet, and his forehead bruised." 
" Why, Lucy, he was ducked !" I cried ex- 
citedly. *•' I saw it all. That is, I saw the row ; 
and I saw him when he made his escape across 
Pitchcroft. He had on a smart green cut-away 
coat, and top-boots." 

'* Yes, yes," she said ; *M was sure it was 
something of that kind. When my husband 
came home later they were talking together in 
an undertone, Edwards cursing some betting- 
man, and Captain Bird telling Edwards that it 
was his own fault for not being more cautious. 
However, I could not come out, Johnny, though 
I knew you were waiting for me, Edwards 
asked, as impertinently as he dared, where I 
was off to. To buy some tea, I answered, but 
that it did not matter particularly, as I had 
enough for the evening. Tlve^ \\\vcvV \ V-^^4^ 
come out to buy it now." 
VOL. II. 10 



3o6 Johnny Ludlow. 

" Do you mean to say, Lucy, that Captain 
Bird denies you free liberty ? — ^watches you as a 
cat does a mouse ?" 

" No, no ; you must not take up wrong notions 
of my husband, Johnny Ludlow. Bad though 
the estimation in which he is held by most 
people is, he has never been really unkind to 
me. Trouble, frightful trouble he does bring 
upon me, for I am his wife and have to share 
it, but personally unkind to me he has never yet 
been." 

** Well, I should think it unkind in your place, 
if I could not go out when I pleased, without 
being questioned. What do they suspect you 
would be after ?" 

*' It is not Captain Bird ; it is Edwards. As 
to what he suspects, I am sure he does not 
know himself ; but he seems to be generally sus- 
picious of everyone, and he sees I do not like 
him. I suppose he lives in general fear of being 
denounced to the police, for he is always doing 
what he calls ' shady ' things ; but he must know 
that he is safe with us. I heard him say to my 
husband the day before we left London, ^ Why 
do you take your wife down ?' Perhaps he thinks 
my brothers might be coming to call on me, and 
of course he does not want attention drawn to 
the place he may chance to be located in, whether 
here or elsewhere." 

** What is his name, Lucy ?" 

'^ His name ? E^dwaids*'' 



The Other Earring. 307 

'* It's not Eccles, is it ?" 

She glanced quickly round as we walked, 
searching my face in the dusk, 

" Why do you ask that ?" 

" Because, when I first saw him to-day on the 
racecourse with Captain Bird, he put me in mind 
of the fine gentleman who came to us thatSunday 
at Crabb Cot, calling himself Detective Eccles, 
and carried off Mrs. Todhetley's other earring." 

Mrs. Bird looked straight before her, making 
no answer. 

*^ You must remember that afternoon, Lucy. 
When I ran over to old Coney's for Mrs. 
Todhetley, you were there, you know ; and 
I told you all about the earrings and the 
detective officer, then making his dinner of half- 
cold beef at our house while he waited for the 
mother to come home and produce the earring. 
Don't you remember } You were just going 
back to Worcester." 

Still she said not a word. 

^* Lucy, I think it is the same man. Although 
his black moustache is gone, I feel sure it is he. 
The face and the tall slender figure are just like 
his." 

" How singular !" she exclaimed, in alow tone 
to herself. " How strangely things come about I" 

" But is it Eccles T 

'* Johnny Ludlow," she said, catching my arm, 
and speaking in an excited, breathless whisper, 
'' if you were to bring harm otv tv\^ — xhv^x. v^> ^^ 

7.0 — ^ 



3o8 Johnny Ludlow. 

him or on my husband through me, I should 
pray to die." 

" But you need not be afraid. Goodness me, 
Lucy ! don't you know that I'd not bring harm 
on anybody in the world, least of all on you ? 
Why, you said to me this morning that I was 
true as steel." 

*' Yes, yes," she said, bursting into tears. '* We 
have always been good friends, have we not, 
Johnny, since you, a little mite of a child in a 
tunic and turned-down frill, came to see me one 
day at school, a nearly grown-up young lady, and 
wanted to leave me your bright sixpence to buy 
gingerbread ? Oh, Johnny, if all people were 
but as loyal and true-hearted as you are !" 

'* Then, Lucy, why need you doubt me ?" 

'* Do you not see the shadows of those leaves 
playing on the ground, cast by the light of that 
gas-lamp ?" she asked. *' Just as many shadows, 
dark as those, lie in the path of my life. They 
have taught me to fear an enemy where I ought 
to look for a friend ; they have taught me that 
life is so full of unexpected windings and turnings, 
that we know not one minute what new fear the 
next may bring forth." 

" Well, Lucy, you need not fear me. I have 
promised you to say nothing of having met you 
here ; and I will say nothing, or of what you 
tell me." 

'^ Promise it me again, Johnny, Faithfully." 
Just a shade of vexaUotv ctoss^^m^j V^-axv^-^^N. 



The Other Earring. 309 

she should think it needful to reiterate this; but 
I would not let my face or voice betray it. 

'* I promise it again, Lucy. Faithfully and 
truly." 

" Ever since last winter I have wanted to hold 
communication with one of you at your home, 
and to restore something that had been lost. But 
it had to be done very, very cautiously, without 
bringing trouble on me or on anybody connected 
with me. Many a solitary hour, sitting by my- 
self in our poor lodgings in London, have I 
deliberated whether I might venture to restore 
this, and how it was to be done ; many a sleep- 
less night have I passed, dwelling on it. Some- 
times I thought I would send it anonymously by 
the post, but it might have been stolen by the 
way ; sometimes it would occur to me to make a 
parcel of it and despatch it in that way. I never 
did either. I waited until some chance should 
bring me again near Mrs. Todhetley. But to-day 
I saw that it would be better to trust you. She 
is true also, and kind; but she might not be able 
to keep the secret from the Squire, and he — he 
would be sure to betray it, though perhaps not 
intentionally, to all Timberdale, and there's no 
knowing what mischief might come of it." 

Light flashed upon me as she spoke. As surely 
as though it were already before me in black and 
white, I knew what she was about to disclose. 

" Lucy, it is the lost earriu^l TVv^tcvaxvsx-^^X^^ 
with you is Eccles." 



3IO Johnny Lttdlow. 

'' Hush !" she whispered in extreme terror, for 
a footstep suddenly sounded close to us. Lucy 
glided behind the trunk of the tree we were pass- 
ing, which in a degree served to hide her. How 
timid she was ! — what cause induced it ? 

The intruder was a shop-boy with an apron 
on, carrying a basket of grocery parcels to one 
of the few houses higher up. He turned his 
head and gave us a good stare, probably taking 
us for a pair of cooing lovers enjoying a stolen 
ramble by starlight. Setting up a shrill whistle, 
he passed on. 

" I don't know what has come to me lately ; 
my heart seems to beat at nothing," said poor 
Mrs. Bird, coming from behind the tree with 
her hand to her side. '*And it was doubly 
foolish of me to go there; better that I had 
kept quietly walking on with you, Johnny." 

'* What is it that you are afraid of, Lucy ?" 

" Only of their seeing me ; seeing me with 
you. Were they to do so, and it were to come 
out that the earring had been returned, they 
would know I had <ione it. They suspected 
me at the time — at least, Edwards did. For it 
is the earring I am about to restore to you, 
Johnny." 

She put a little soft white paper packet in my 

hand, that felt as if it had wool inside it. I 

hardly knew whether I was awake or asleep. 

The beautiful earring that we had g^iven up for 

good^ come back agam \ ^tvd \}cv^ ^owcA oS. \icv^ 



The Other Earring. 311 

drums and trumpets burst once more upon our 
ears. 

'* You will give it to Mrs. Todhetley when 
you get home, Johnny. And I must leave it to 
your discretion to tell her what you think proper 
of whence you obtained it. Somewhat of course 
you must tell her, but how much or how little I 
leave with you. Only take care you bring no 
harm upon me." 

** I am sure, Lucy, that Mrs. Todhetley may 
be trusted." 

" Very well. Both of you must be secret as 
the grave. It is for my sake, tell her, that I 
implore it. Perhaps she will keep the earring 
by her for a few months, saying nothing, so that 
this visit of ours into Worcestershire may be 
quite a thing of the past, and no suspicion, in 
consequence of it, as connected with the earring, 
may arise in my husband's mind. After that, 
when months have elapsed, she must contrive 
to let it appear that the earring is then, in some 
plausible way or other, returned to her." 

'" Rely upon it, we will take care. It will be 
managed very easily. But how did you get the 
earring, Lucy?" 

" It has been in my possession ever since the 
night of the day you lost it ; that Sunday after- 
noon, you know. I have carried it about with 
me everywhere." 

" Do you mean carried it upon you ?" 

" Yes ; upon me." 



312 Johnny Ludlow. 

" I wonder you never lost It — a little thing 
like this f I said, touching the soft packet that 
lay in my jacket pocket. 

'* I could not lose it," she whispered. "It 
was sewn into ray clothes." 

*^ But, Lucy, how did you manage to get it ?" 

She gave me the explanation in a few low, 
rapid words, glancing about her as she did it. 
Perhaps I had better repeat it in my own way ; 
and to do that we must go back to the Sunday 
afternoon. At least, that will render it more 
intelligible and ship-shape. But I did not learn 
the one-half of the details then : no, nor for a 
long time afterwards. And so, we go back 
again in imagination to the time of that January 
day, when we were honoured by the visit of 
** Detective Eccles," and the snow was lying on 
the ground, and Farmer Coney's good fires 
were blazing hospitably, 

Lucy Bird quitted the warm fires and her 
kind friends, the Coneys, and followed us out — 
me and Mrs. Todhetley — she saw us turn in at 
our own gate, and then she picked her way 
through the snow to the station at South Crabb. 
It was a long walk for her in that inclement 
weather ; but she had been away from home (if 
the poor lodgings they then occupied in Wor- 
cester could be called home) two days, and was 
anxious to get back. During her brief absences 
from it, she was always \va\\tv\.^^ \3^ \^^ l^-^^^S. 



The Other Earring. 31 



^ 



some ill falling on that precious husband of hers, 
Captain Bird ; but he was nothing but an ex- 
captain, as you know. All the way to the 
station she was thinking about the earrings, and 
of my description of Detective Eccles. The 
description was exactly that of her husband's 
friend, Edwards, both as to person and dress ; 
not that she supposed it could be he. When she 
left Worcester nearly two days before, Edwards 
had jiist arrived. She knew him to be an edu- 
cated man, of superior manners, and full of 
anecdote, when he chose, about college life. 
Like her husband, he had, by recklessness and 
ill-conduct, sunk lower and lower in the world, 
until he had to depend on *' luck" or *' chance " 
for a living. 

Barely had Lucy reached the station, walking 
but slowly, when the train shot in. She took her 
seat ; and, after a short halt the train moved on 
again. At that moment there strode into the 
station that self-same man, Edwards, who began 
shouting furiously for the train to stop, putting up 
his hands, running and gesticulating. The train 
declined to stop ; trains generally do decline to 
stop for late passengers, however frantically 
adjured ; and Edwards was left behind. His 
appearance astonished Lucy considerably. Had 
he, in truth, been passing himself off as a detec- 
tive officer to Squire Todhetley ? If so, with 
what motive ? Lucy could t\o\. ^^^ ?vxv^ vcA>^^- 
ing motive, and still thoug^Vvt. vX. eov\^ x\o\.\i^ 



314 Johmty Ludlow i, 

that Edwards must be over here on some busi- 
ness of his own. The matter passed from her 
mind as she drew near Worcester, and reached 
their lodgings, which were down Lowesmoor 
way. 

Experience had taught Lucy not to ask. ques- 
tions. She was either not answered at all, or 
the answer would be sure to give her trouble. 
Captain Bird had grown tolerably careless as to 
whether his hazardous doings reached, or did 
not reach, the ears of his wife, but he did not 
willingly tell her of them. She said not a word 
of having seen Edwards, or of what she had 
heard about the loss of Mrs. Todhetley's ear- 
ring, or of the detective's visit to Crabb Cot. 
Lucy's whole life was one of dread and fear, 
and she never knew whether any remark of hers 
might not bear upon some dangerous subject. 
But while getting the tea, she did just inquire 
after Edwards. 

** Has Edwards left T she asked carelessly. 

''No," replied Captain Bird, who was stretched 
out before the fire in his slippers, smoking a 
long pipe, and drinking spirits. *' He is out on 
the loose, though, somewhere torday." 

It was late at night when Edwards entered. 
He was in a rage. Trains did not run frequently 
on Sundays, and he had been kept all that while 
at South Crabb junction, waiting for one. Lucy 
went upstairs to bed, leaving Edwards and 
htr husband toping aw^.^ ^x. \ix^TA>j ^^\$s. 



The Other Earrmg. 315 

water. Both of them had had quite enough 
already. 

The matter of the earrings and the doubt 
whether Mr. Edwards had been playing at 
amateur detectiveship would have ended there, 
but for the accident of Lucy's having to come 
downstairs again, to get the small travelling 
bag in which she had carried her combs and 
brushes. She had put it just inside the little 
back parlour, where a bed on chairs had been 
extemporised for Edwards, their lodgings not 
being very extensive. Lucy was picking up 
the bag in the dark, when some words in the 
sitting-room caught her ear ; the door between 
the two rooms being partly open. Before a 
minute elapsed she had heard too much. 
Edwards, in a loud, gleeful, boasting tone, was 
telling how he had been acting the detective, 
and done the old Squire and his wife out of the 
other earring. Lucy, looking in through the 
opening, saw him holding it up ; she saw the 
colours of the long pink topaz drop, and of the 
diamonds gleaming in the candle-light. 

** I thought I could relieve them of it," he 
said. " When I read that advertisement in the 
paper, it struck me there might be a field open 
to do a little stroke of business ; and T ve done it." 

" You are a fool for your pains," growled 
Captain Bird. ** There's sure to be a row." 

" The row won't touch me, I'm off to Lon- 
don to-morrow morning, and tK^ ^-axtv^v^ ^>:5sv 



3i6 Johnny Ludlozu. 

me. I wonder what the thing will turn us in ? 
Twenty pounds ? There, put it in the box. 
Bird, and get out the dice." 

The dice on a Sunday night ! 

Lucy felt quite sick as she went back up- 
stairs. What would be the end of all this ? 
Not of this one transaction in particular, but of 
all the other disofraceful transactions with which 
her husband was connected ? It might come to 
some public exposure, some criminal trial at the 
Bar of Justice ; and of that she had a horrible 
dread ever haunting her like a nightmare. 

She undressed, and went to bed. One hour 
passed, two hours passed, three hours passed. 
Lucy turned and turned on her uneasy pillow, 
feeling fit to die. Besides her own anguish 
arising from their share in it, she was dwelling 
on the shameful wrong it did their kind friends 
at Crabb Cot. 

The fourth hour was passing. Captain Bird 
had not come up, and Lucy grew uneasy on 
that score. Once, when he had taken too 
much (but as a general rule the ex-captain's de- 
linquencies did not lie in that direction), he had 
set his shirt-sleeve on fire, and burnt his hands 
badly in putting it out. Slipping out of bed, 
Lucy put on her slippers and the large old 
shawl, and crept down to see after him. 

Opening the sitting-room door very softly, 
she looked in. The caudles were alight still, 
but had burnt nearly do\NTv Vo \N\^ ^oO(^^\.\ ^^ 



The Other Earring. 317 

dice and some cards were scattered on the 
table. 

Edwards lay at full length on the old red 
stuff sofa; Captain Bird had thrown himself 
outside the bed in the other room, the door of 
which was now wide open, neither of them 
having undressed. That both were wholly or 
partially intoxicated, Lucy felt not a doubt of. 

Well, she could only leave them as they 
were. They would come to no harm asleep. 
Neither would the candles : which must soon 
burn themselves out. Lucy was about to shut 
the door again, when her eye fell on the little 
pasteboard box that contained the earring. 

Without a moment's reflection, acting on the 
spur of impulse, she softly stepped to the table, 
lifted the lid, and took the earring out. 

" I will remedy the wrong they have done 
Mrs. Todhetley," she said to herself. " They 
will never suspect me." 

Up in her room again, she lighted her candle 
and looked about for some place to conceal the 
earring ; and, just as the idea to secure it had 
come unbidden to her, so did that of a safe 
place of concealment. With feverish hands she 
undid a bit of the quilting of her petticoat, one 
that she had but just made for herself out of an 
old merino gown, slipped the earring in amid 
the wadding, and sewed it up again. It could 
neither be seen nor suspected \.\\^'t^ \ ^^si^ ^^^'^^ 
even felt, let the skirt be exarcatv^^ a^ '>^. xxvv^cc^* 



3i8 Johnny Ltidlow. 

That done, poor Lucy got Into bed again and 
at length fell asleep. 

She was awakened by a commotion. It was 
broad daylight, and her husband (not yet as 
sober as he might be), was shaking her by the 
arm. Edwards was standing outside the door, 
calling out to know whether Mrs. Bird had 
'' got it." 

** What is the matter, George ?" she cried, 
starting up in a fright, and for the moment 
completely forgetting where she was, for she 
had been aroused from a vivid dream of Tim- 
berdale. 

'* Have you been bringing anything up here 
from the sitting-room, Lucy ?" asked Captain 
Bird. 

** No, nothing," she replied promptl)^ and he 
saw that she spoke with truth. For Lucy's 
recollection had not come to her ; she remem- 
bered nothing yet about the earring. 

** There's something missing," said Captain 

Bird, speaking thickly. " It has disappeared 

mysteriously off the sitting-room table. You are 

sure you have not been down and collared it, 

. Lucy ?" 

The earring and the theft — her own theft — 
flashed into her memory together. Oh, if she 
could but avert suspicion from herself! And 
she strove to call up no end of surprise in her 
voice. 
^ ''Why, how coviVd \ VvaveV^^^^ do^x\,C;;x^Q>x^€l 



The Other Earring. 319 

Did you not see that I was fast asleep ? What 
have you missed ? Some money ?" 

" Money, no. It was — something of Edwards'. 
Had it close by him on the table when he went 
to sleep, he says — he lay on the sofa last night 
and I had his bed — and this morning it was 
gone. I thought the house was on fire by the 
fierce way he came and shook me.*' 

" I'll look for it when I come down, if you 
tell me what it is," said poor Lucy. " How late 
I have slept 1 It must have been the cold 
journey." 

*' She has not got it," said Captain Bird, re- 
treating to his friend outside, and closing the 
door on Lucy. *' Knows nothing about it. Was 
asleep till I awoke her." 

** Search the room, you fool," cried the excited 
Edwards. " I'd never trust the word of a 
woman. No offence to your wife. Bird, but 
it is not to be trusted." 

" Rubbish !" said Captain Bird. 

*' Either she or you must have got it. It 
could not disappear without hands. The people 
down below have not been to our rooms, as you 
must know." 

*'She or I — what do you mean by that?" 
retorted Captain Bird ; and a short sharp quarrel 
ensued. That the captain had not touched the 
earring, Edwards knew full well. It was Ed- 
wards who had helped him to reach the bed the 
previous night : and since then Bvtd \\'2A \^^^^ 



320 Johnny Ludlow. 

in the deep sleep of stupor. But Edwards did 
think the captain's wife had. The result was 
that Captain Bird , re-entered ; and, ordering 
Lucy to lie still, he made as exact a search of 
the room as his semi-sobered faculties allowed. 
Lucy watched it from her bed. Amid the 
general hunting and turning-over of drawers 
and places, she saw him pick up her gown and 
petticoats one by one and shake them thoroughly, 
but he found no signs of the earring. 

From that time to this the affair had remained 
a mystery. There had been no one in the house 
that night, save the proprietor and his wife, two 
quiet old people who never concerned themselves 
with their lodgers. They protested that the street 
door had been fast, and that no midnight ma- 
rauder could have broken in and slipped upstairs 
to steal a pearl brooch (as Edwards put it) or any 
other article. So, failing the feasibility of other 
outlets of suspicion, Edwards continued tosuspect 
Lucy. There were moments when Bird did 
also : though he trusted her, in regard to it, on 
the whole. At any rate, Lucy was obliged to 
be most cautious. The quilted skirt had never 
been off her since, except at night : through the 
warm genial days of spring and the sultry heat 
of summer she had worn the clumsy wadded 
thing continually : and the earring had never 
been disturbed until this afternoon. 

** You see how it is, Johnny," she said to me^ 
wi\h one of her sobbu\^ ^\^'&. 



TJie Ottier Earring. . 321 

But at that moment the grocer s young man 
in the white apron came back down the walk, 
swinging his empty basket by the handle ; and 
he took another good stare at us in passing. 

" I mean, as to the peril I should be in if you 
suffer the restoration of the earring to transpire/' 
she continued in a whisper, when he was at a 
safe distance. ** Oh, Johnny Ludlow 1 do you 
and Mrs. Todhetley take care, for my poor sake!" 

" Lucy, you need not doubt either of us," I 
said earnestly. '* We will be, as you phrased it 
to-day, true as steel — and as cautious. Are 
you going back } Let me walk up to the top 
with you." 

** No, no ; we part here. The seeing us to- 
gether might arouse some suspicion, and there 
is no absolute certainty that they may not come 
out, though I don't think they will. Edwards 
is for ever thinking of that earring: he does 
not feel safe about it, you perceive. Go you 
that way : I go this. Farewell, Johnny Lud- 
low, farewell." 

*' Good-night, Lucy. I am off to the circus 
now." 

She went with a brisk step up the walk. I 
ran out by St. Oswald's, and so on to the 
Saracen's Head. The place was crammed. I 
could not get near Tod and Harry Parker ; but 
they whistled at me across the sawdust and the 
fancy steeds performing on it. 

VOL. II. *^^^ 



32 2 ^ Johimy Ludlow. 

We sat together in Mrs. Todhetleys bed- 
room at Dyke Manor, the door bolted against 
intruders : she, in her astonishment at the tale I 
told, hardly daring to touch the earring. It was 
Saturday morning ; we had come home from 
Worcester the previous evening; and should 
now be off to school in an hour. Tod had gone 
strolling out with the Squire ; which gave me 
my opportunity. 

''You see, good mother, how it all is, and 
the risk we run. Do you know, I had half a 
mind to keep the earring myself for some months 
and say never a word to you ; only I was not 
sure of pitching on a safe hiding-place. It would 
be so dreadful a thing for Lucy Bird if it were 
to get known." 

'* Poor Lucy, poor Lucy!" she said, the tears 
on her light eyelashes. ** Oh, Johnny, if she 
could but be induced to leave that man !" 

*' But she can't, you know. Robert Ashton 
has tried over and over to get her back to the 
Court — and tried in vain. See how it shines !" 

I was holding the earring so that the rays of 
the sun fell upon it, flashing and sparkling. It 
seemed more beautiful than it used to be. 

" I am very, very glad to have it back. 
Johnny ; the other one v;as useless without it. 
You have not," with a tone of apprehension in 
her voice, ''told Joseph V 

I shook my head. The truth was, I had 
never Jonged to teW atv^xKvcv^ ^o Tcsxy.Ocv \v^ x^>j 



The Other Earring. 323 

life : for what did I ever conceal from him ? It 
was hard work, I can assure you. The earring 
burnings a hole in my pocket, and I not able to 
show Tod that it was there ! 

*' And now, mother, where will you put it ?" 

She rose to unlock a drawer, took from it a 
small blue box in the shape of a trunk, and 
unlocked that 

^* It is in this that I keep all my little 
valuables, Johnny. It will be quite safe here. 
By-and-by we must invent some mode of 
* recovering the earring,' as poor Lucy said." 

Lifting the lid of a little pasteboard box, she 
showed me the fellow earring lying in a nest of 
cotton. I took it out 

** Put them both into your ears for a minute, 
good mother ! Do !" 

She smiled, hesitated ; then took out the plain 
rings that were in her ears, and put in those of 
the beautiful pink topaz and diamond. Going to 
the glass to look at herself, she saw the Squire 
and Tod advancing in the distance. It sent us 
into a panic. Scuffling the ear-rings out of her 
ears, she laid them together on the wool in the 
cardboard box, put the lid on, and folded it 
round with white paper. 

** Light one of the candles on my dressing- 
table, Johnny. We will seal it up for greater 
security : there's a bit of red sealing-wax in the 
tray." And I did so at her direction : stamping 
it with the seal that had been my father's^ aad 



324 Johnny Lndlow. 

which with his watch they had only recently 
allowed me to take into wearing. 

" There/' she said, " should anybody by chance 
see that packet, though it is not likely, and be 
curious to know what it contains, I shall say 
that I cannot satisfy them, as it concerns 
Johnny Ludlow," 

" Are you upstairs, Johnny ? What in the 
world are you doing there ?" 

I went leaping down at Tod's call. All was 
safe now. 

That's how the other earring came back. 
And " Eccles" had to be let off scot free. But 
I was glad he got the ducking. 



END OF VOL. II. 



BILLING AND SONS, PRINTERS AND ELECTROTYPERS, GUILDFORD. 

S. 53* H. 



.f 



11 



ir